BUILDING SELF-ESTEEM

Teach children about decision-making and how to tell the difference between a bad decision and a good one. Let them “own” their problems. If they solve them, they gain confidence in themselves. If you solve them, they’ll remain dependent on you. It’s important to teach them to think for themselves. Take the time to answer questions. Help children think of alternative options, don’t give them alternative options.

Self-esteem refers to how children feel about themselves and expect to be accepted and valued by others who are important to them. Because it is important for them to feel accepted, a healthy sense of self is crucial for determining how they will approach life and interact with others. Self-esteem represents an individual’s need to belong and feel loved unconditionally; it is not just a happy positive idea about oneself, but rather a reflection of one’s character and self-respect. It is assessed by an individual’s ability to handle life situations and tasks and is interpreted by the individual from feedback received from others. For example, if children believe they are good readers, they will look for opportunities to improve and increase their reading skills; however, if they believe they have difficulties with reading, they will likely avoid tasks associated with reading and give up more easily when they are required to read.

Self-esteem has many aspects and develops within the context of a child’s evolving sense of identity and the ever-changing life tasks and challenges he or she faces. It is a lifelong developmental process whose roots are established in early childhood. A child’s sense of identity is developed through their view of acceptance, power, control, competence, and moral virtues. Children are active participants in their developing sense of self, which incorporates feedback received from parents, friends, siblings, teachers and classmates. Love, trust, autonomy, initiative, self-control, and the ability to interact socially all contribute to a lasting role in how children feel about themselves as individuals. They develop self-understanding and competence through their interactions with others, from which they construct a sense of self and personal value.

Teaching children well-developed coping skills and problem-solving techniques reinforce positive self-esteem by enabling them to think strategically and achieve personally desired goals.