How to Promote Healthy Self Esteem in Children

We have all heard that healthy self esteem is important for emotional well being, but why is this so? Self esteem allows children to have a realistic understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. It gives them the confidence to take on new challenges. Self esteem gives children a buffer against negative experience. For instance, a child with low self esteem is wounded much more deeply by a classmate’s teasing or criticism than a child with healthy self esteem. Self esteem enables children to feel more comfortable in social situations and make friends more easily. Children with healthy self esteem are able to resist negative peer pressure more easily. They feel more positive about themselves, smile more, and in general, view life and their future more optimistically. In contrast, children with low self esteem are more prone to depression, anxiety, feelings of helplessness and negative self criticism.

Here are some things we can do to promote self esteem in our children:

–Spend time with your children. Spending time with children gives them a sense of self worth.

–Listen to what they say.This allows children to feel their thoughts and ideas are important.

–Praise their accomplishments not their character. Instead of saying “what a good boy” say “I am proud of you for cleaning your room so well”.

–Tell children you love them often and demonstrate your love with hugs and other forms of affection.

–Set realistic goals for your children and praise them for achieving those goals.

–Validate their feelings. Sometimes we think that children’s problems are small compared to ours. Nothing could be further from the truth.When your child is feeling stressed or sad or angry give them the time to discuss their feelings and work them through

–Allow children the opportunity to take on new challenges and learn from their mistakes.

–Be fair, firm and consistent when you set limits. Inconsistency confuses children. Limits allow children to feel safe and protected (even if they don’t like the limits). Learning to abide by the rules at home enables them to abide by the rules of society.

Until next time, be well and happy!

Lawrence Ross Ph.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

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