How does self-esteem develop?
Positive self-esteem starts with your child’s healthy attachment to you. It begins as early as birth, and continues as your child grows and develops.
Children need to feel loved and accepted to build self-esteem. Whden you take good care of your baby, it helps her feel loved and valued. When you play with your child and help her learn, she becomes more self-confident and willing to try new things. When your child goes to school and does well on a test, or while playing a sport, your praise and encouragement will help her feel proud of what she’s done.
As your child gets older, providing rules and structure will help her feel confident that she is cared for. Gradually give her opportunities to make choices for herself and feel more independent.
What can I do to help foster my child’s self-esteem?
- The most important thing is to show your child lots of love and acceptance. Show him that you love him by spending time with him and by giving him a lot of hugs and affection.
- Focus on your child by playing with her and listening when she talks. Show interest in your child’s activities, projects, or problems. Let her guide play, and be willing to do the things she wants to do.
- Provide structure and rules. Be consistent. Decide on and enforce clear rules and limits that are right for your child’s age and stage. Tell him what you expect, and what the consequences will be if the rules aren’t followed. This helps him feel safe and secure, and gradually grow more confident about making his own decisions.
- Tell your child you are happy when she cooperates or helps you, follows rules, or does other positive things. Explain what you like about her behaviour.
- Help your child find something he is good at and enjoys. Understand and respect that he will be really good at some activities and not good at others. Never humiliate or put down your child for not succeeding.
- Support your child and offer genuine praise. Encourage her to try new things, and tell her you are proud of her. Praise efforts and skills, but be specific in what you say. Don’t over-praise every accomplishment, because it will only take away from the things she succeeds at and that took real effort. Remind her that learning new skills takes time and practice, and that no one can master everything. You can also talk about your own successes and failures and what you’ve learned.
- Help your child learn from his mistakes. Talk about what can be done differently next time, and how he can control his own behaviour.
- Provide your child with responsibilities and opportunities to contribute in the home. For example, assign family chores, or ask for help preparing dinner. This teaches your child that she’s important.
- Be a role model. Show your child what it means to love yourself, be willing to do and try new things, and model how you cope with set-backs or challenges. Show your child the rewards of patience, persistence and doing things as well as you can.
- Offer choices and the chance to problem-solve, appropriate to your child’s age and stage, so that your child learns that he has control over his life.
- Create a safe, loving home environment where your child can feel comfortable, secure and happy. Avoid fighting or arguing with your partner in front of your child.
When should I call a doctor?
It’s normal for children to show one or more symptoms of low self-esteem every once in a while. Call your doctor if your child’s behaviour doesn’t get better, or if it gets worse over time.
SOURCE – Canadian Paediatric Society
Brain Development in the Early Years: Quality of Interactions:
Caring for Kids
Your child’s self-esteem affects how well they do day-to-day. It affects their relationship with you and with others, and has an impact on how they do at school and in social situations. Later in life, it will affect how they do in the workplace. Caring for Kids website has more on this topic including some useful videos:
Bullying – we can all help stop it
Via Government of Ontario; learn what to watch for, what you can do and where you can go to get help if your child is being bullied. Parents and guardians of students in elementary and secondary school can use this guide to get information.