So, really, what is self esteem and why does it matter?
Simply stated, self esteem is how we feel about ourselves. It’s a gage of how we see ourselves as valuable and worthwhile in our world. With positive self esteem, we have a sense of control over much of our lives, we feel capable, we stand up for ourselves and work to carry out our responsibilities. When we have positive beliefs and attitudes about ourselves, we are likely to do better at most of our endeavors. When we feel good about ourselves, the world looks better, our relationships seem better and our productivity increases.
The opposite is true when we have low self esteem. We don´t feel good about ourselves. With this scenario, we are likely to be less motivated and less productive which causes us not to try to do our best. Friendships can suffer as frustrated kids seek negative attention. Children with low self-esteem may have trouble gaining the confidence they need to face and deal with their lives and learning responsibilities. This is the root of other serious challenges. For example repeated failure can lead to feelings of frustration, anger, anxiety and sadness. Children in this situation often give up and lose interest in learning.
However, self esteem can be altered simply by living in this world. It can be build up or torn down. When children have high self-esteem they feel respected, are resilient and can feel proud, even when they screw up. They act independently and take responsibility for their actions. Typically, they are comfortable and secure in forming relationships, have the courage to believe in their ability to make good decisions that’s in their best interest even when there is peer pressure to the contrary.
Building self-esteem is possible. Children can learn to improve how they see and value themselves and parents can help by being supportive and realistic.
What’s a Person To Do?
1. Do nothing for children that they can possibly do for themselves even though you can do it faster and better.
2. Be supportive yet realistic of the child’s efforts and hard work are important. Encourage them to take on new tasks, try new things and meet the challenges that come his or her way.
3. Help children discover their strengths and build upon them.
4. Help children perform beyond the limits they set for themselves.
5. Discourage negative self-talk.
6. Teach children positive affirmations and self compassion. Self-compassion is a willingness to look at their mistakes and shortcomings with kindness and understanding. After all, we’re all human and we’ll all make mistakes. Help them learn from their mistakes.
7. Teach them to embrace their uniqueness and refrain from comparing themselves to others. There is always someone prettier, smarter, cooler and taller. Also, there are plenty of folks that’s the opposite. No one will ever be just like your child. Each of us is unique.
8. Encourage children to hang around positive people who don’t put others down with criticism and threats. Believe me, there are many kids in these categories.
9. Remember, we all screw up. Mistakes help us learn. The key is to keep moving forward and keep trying.
When we show kids how to be kind to themselves, their self esteem and therefore their productivity will improve.
© Dr. Rachell N. Anderson, Psy. D, August 5, 2019
Dr. Rachell Anderson is a native of Tunica, a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Professor Emeritus and author. She taught at the University of Illinois and ran a Private Clinical Practice in Springfield, Illinois for many years. She now lives in Tunica, Mississippi and writes with the Tunica Chapter of the Mississippi Writers Guild. Check out her website at WWW.drrachellanderson.com for more articles and books she has written.