Boost Your Child’s Self Esteem
by Muriel Jarvis
All of us can benefit from a boost in self-esteem! Self-esteem or self-worth, is the value we place on ourselves. It is the knowledge that we are lovable, capable and unique. Children who develop high self-esteem are better able to withstand the challenges that are unfortunately often part of growing up, such as bullying, peer pressure, drugs and alcohol, and sexuality. Adults with high self-esteem are better equipped to deal with life issues such as relationships, and workplace challenges or practicing healthy lifestyles.
As with many of the positive adult traits such as confidence, and responsibility, self-esteem begins in childhood. The sooner children can begin to develop high self-esteem, the better. Parents have the greatest influence in shaping their child’s sense of self-worth, however it is further influenced as children develop relationships with friends, school teachers and other adults.
Child and family counselor, Michelle Moreau, suggests a number of ways that parents, caregivers or family members can begin to help a child build their self-esteem.
Scheduling “one-on-one” time, or leisure time together.
Even 5 minutes of uninterrupted time together can let a child know that you care. Showing the child that you like being in their company will help them feel good about themself.
Acknowledging and celebrating talents & successes.
Hang school work, certificates on the refrigerator or bulletin board. Over dinner, talk about achievements and boost confidence levels.
Complimenting good hygiene and appearances.
“You look terrific today”, will go a long way to make your child feel good about their appearances and also serve as a reminder to stop comparing him/herself unfavorably with peers.
Encouraging the child to participate in household chores.
This lets a child know that they’re trusted and recognizes their competencies. It also teaches children to be accountable as well as the importance of helping others and working as a team.
Whenever possible, ask the child for advice and respect their opinions.
Empowering children in this way helps them feel valued, respected and trusted.
Providing a safe environment in which learning can take place.
This environment should be a place in which clear rules and realistic expectations are set and enforced. Mistakes are welcomed learning experiences. Children can be taught and encouraged to say “no’ to negative pressures.
Showing affection – several times a day!
Write your child a note of gratitude, or give plenty of hugs! These things reinforce self-worth – but also facilitate relationship building.
Parents can also invent some of their own ways of building self-esteem, by knowing what makes their child feel valued, unique and special. In summary, parents and caregivers can help develop a child’s self-esteem by expressing love and acceptance, conveying a sense of belonging, trust, respect and providing a safe and secure environment in which a child can learn and grow.
About The Author
Muriel Jarvis is the past Executive Director of Family Plus/Life Solutions, a United Way agency in Saint John, with over 20 professional counsellors delivering counselling, education and wellness services.