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Self-Esteem

Building a Child’s Confidence and Success

As children grow and develop, they form opinions about themselves through the words and actions of others. By providing a loving and caring environment, parents and caregivers can positively shape a child’s self-image.

Self-esteem affects a child’s life and personality, such as their relationships with others, attitude, decision and problem-solving abilities, energy, creativity, and success in reaching goals.

Children with high self-esteem feel good about themselves, which helps them keep a positive attitude toward different circumstances. Low self-esteem can cause a child to feel insecure, fearful, and anxious. As a parent or caretaker, you play an important role in helping children develop the self-confidence needed to succeed in many aspects of their lives.

By knowing how to recognize signs of low and high self-esteem, you can appropriately meet each child’s needs in order to promote self-confidence. Signs of low self-esteem include:

  • Avoiding new and unfamiliar experiences and situations
  • Putting down of one’s own abilities
  • Blaming others for mistakes
  • Easily influenced by others
  • Easily frustrated
  • Defensive and easily hurt by criticism
  • Continually wishing to change appearance
  • Lack of classroom involvement

Alternatively, signs of high self-esteem are:

  • Approaching new situations and challenges eagerly
  • Pride in achievements
  • Learning from mistakes
  • Accepting helpful criticism
  • Confidence about appearance

Children’s views of themselves are largely shaped by what they hear and experience while growing up. Adults can help build a strong sense of confidence by:

  • Helping them recognize and appreciate their uniqueness
  • Being a model of self-confidence through your words, actions, and attitude
  • Communicating unconditional love
  • Acknowledging and encouraging children’s efforts
  • Avoiding comparisons to siblings, friends, and peers
  • Allowing children to act independently and make their own decisions, even if they make mistakes.

Being available and spending time with your child shows her that she is important. Express your love and appreciation daily by talking, playing, and showing affection. Be involved by creating opportunities for your child to be successful at developing new skills and tasks. Some examples of things you can to do cultivate high self-esteem with your child are:

From birth to five years:

  • Encourage and acknowledge growth and development in all areas. You can do this even with babies and toddlers when they learn to roll over, sit up, use a spoon, and cooperate with others.
  • Hang up drawings and artwork
  • Allow your child to help with household chores

From 6 to 13 years:

  • Celebrate special accomplishments like student of the month, learning to swim, or improving grades at school.
  • Attend important events like parent-teacher meetings, musical recitals, and athletic competitions.
  • Encourage and acknowledge efforts and achievements such as learning to read, behaving appropriately, thinking of others, completing homework and projects, and keeping their room clean.

As children grow into their teens:

  • Assign them household responsibilities like laundry or simple cooking, continue to praise their special accomplishments, and acknowledge achievements like finding work, making healthy decisions, or managing their finances.

The benefits of encouraging self-worth have long-term effects for your child, giving them confidence to express opinions and communicate openly, strength to hold firmly to their values and beliefs, ability to respect the differences of others, and healthy relationships with others without feelings of jealousy or anger.

To download our “Self-Esteem” brochure and to access additional resources and podcasts, please visit Children’s Home Society of California’s website at www.chs-ca.org

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