Self-esteem, in short, is how we feel about ourselves. Children who have low self-esteem are much more likely to develop problem behaviors such as drug use, eating disorders, depression and involvement with abusive partners.

How do you know if your child has low self-esteem and what can you do to improve it?

  • Some clues that your child may have low self-esteem:
  • Finds challenges to be enormously frustrating
  • Difficulty finding solutions to problems
  • Self- critical thinking (“I can’t do anything right”)
  • Faces new challenges with defeatism
  • Has a predominant sense of pessimism

Two things must be present in order to have healthy self-esteem: 1) we must feel competent and 2) we must feel loveable. A child who feels loved may not feel capable and therefore may have lower self-esteem. Similarly, a child who is good at tasks but feels unworthy of love will also likely suffer from self-image problems.

Building self-esteem is not about excessive flattery or trying to convince a child that he or she can do everything brilliantly – it’s about showing your child that perfection is not the goal: effort and completion of a task are more important than the outcome. When you demonstrate to your child that you have faith in him, he learns to feel competent and self-assured.

Redefine your outlook on mistakes because mistakes are a blessing! We learn our most valuable lessons from the pain in our lives, it is what shapes our resiliency. Mistakes are destructive when used as a way to shame or berate your child for failure but they are constructive when used to help build self-esteem.

Basic tips to build self-esteem in your child:

1)         Appreciate effort and completion, not just outcome.

2)         Cooperation can be more important than competition.

3)         Treat kids with dignity and respect so that they will feel worthy of your love.

4)         Help kids cope with defeats by letting them know your love and support is unwavering.

Feelings of self-esteem fluctuate over a lifetime but you can give your children an advantage by keeping these tips in mind. When we are feeling badly about something, the best thing is for someone to give us a boost, not remind us of why we failed in the first place.

If you’re looking for help with fostering self esteem in your children, contact me to learn more about my parenting coaching services.