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Self-Esteem Basics for Parents

Self-esteem is a term that gets thrown around quite a bit in media and educational content, but it can actually be a vague and confusing subject. This makes it difficult for parents to find the specific approaches and necessary resources to promote healthy self-esteem in their children. So, what is self-esteem, why is it crucial, and – most importantly – how can we help our kiddos develop this as they grow?

The Meaning and Importance of Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is both the way in which we measure our self-worth and how worthy we believe ourselves to be. It is the complicated answer to the simple question: how good am I? Different people rely on a combination of different identity aspects to measure their worth, such as social standing, physical appearance, economic stability, mental abilities, etc. Our level of self-esteem helps determine our ability to: 

In children, low self-esteem has been linked to increased levels of depression, anxiety, and academic stress. All these detrimental effects can reinforce negative thoughts and beliefs about oneself, so it is imperative to identify signs of low self-esteem early and provide appropriate intervention. 

Signs of Low Self-Esteem: Signs of High Self-Esteem: 
Avoidance of new experiences or opportunities 
Negative self-talk  
Low levels of motivation and interest 
Constant fear of failure or embarrassment  Difficulty making friends 
Confidence in their decision-making capability 
Positive self-talk 
Setting realistic expectations and goals 
Tendency to seek out new opportunities and knowledge 
Ability to develop and maintain positive relationships 

The Role of Parents in Self-Esteem Development

Self-esteem is ever-changing; it is constantly shaped by our experiences. It begins to develop in infancy and continues to be shaped by our interactions with the world around us. Parents play an essential role in helping children build self-esteem from birth to adulthood.  

So, what, specifically, can parents do to promote self-esteem in their children? Here are three actionable tips! 

Encourage independent problem-solving. Create an environment in which your child feels safe to make and learn from mistakes to reinforce their confidence and decision-making abilities. Communicate to your child that mistakes are learning experiences, not faults. 

Offer praise & affirm progress. Both affirmations and praise are powerful tools that, when used effectively, can help build children’s confidence and self-esteem. Effective praise is: 

Express your love. Expressing love and kindness often is arguably the most crucial step any parent can take to boost their child’s self-esteem and to ensure their healthy socio-emotional development. Here are some easy ways you can show your kids you care and love them: 

Creating and maintaining positive, healthy relationships with your children can dramatically impact their confidence. Kids with high self-esteem are at a lower risk of anxiety and depression, and their academic and social development is more likely to be on track. Parents play a major role in the way that children’s self-esteem develops, so their involvement and attention is crucial for their child’s wellness.  

If you or a family member needs behavioral and/or mental health treatment, but aren’t sure where to start, read more here or call 888-764-4161. We’re here to support!