RECOVERY: Fostering Positive Self-Esteem In Children

Positive Self-Esteem is essential to a happy, healthy life. It gives us the ability to adapt, grow, cope, and survive. It allows us to successfully navigate the frustrations, difficulties, and problems that we will inevitably be faced with along the way. 

Parents are crucial to a child’s positive sense of self.  A parent’s role is to provide stability, security, and love so children will flourish and grow to be self-confident, responsible, and capable. It is of great importance that parents are role models who display a positive view of self so the child will learn by example.

Self-esteem isn’t arrogant, self absorbed, or narcissistic. It’s a healthy understanding of who you are. It is liking yourself for who you are.

When a child (or adult) has a positive self-concept they are empowered, and protected.  Understanding yourself, your beliefs, strengths, and even weaknesses, strengthens a child’s ability to understand, withstand, cope, and handle difficult situations and decisions.


Self–Esteem = our self-perceptions

       How we define ourselves - which influences:

·      Motivation

·      Attitude

·      Behavior

·      Emotional adjustment

·      Fluctuates as kids grow

What affects a child’s self-esteem?
·      How much they feel loved, wanted, appreciated.

·      The child’s view of himself

·      His/Her sense of achievement

·      How he/she relates to others

A child with good self-esteem learns flexibility, communication, resilience, and problem solving.

These skills help the child adapt and better handle:

·      Stressful situations

·      Negative pressures

·      Conflicts with peers

·      Peer pressure

 A child with low self-esteem will experience: 
·      Difficulty finding solutions to problems

·      Passiveness

·      Withdrawal

·      Depression

·      Fearful of challenges

Patterns of Self-Esteem start early in life.

·      Reaching milestones gives a sense of accomplishment

·      Continued attempts to accomplish after failed attempts teaches “can do” attitude (try, fail, try, fail, try again, succeed. This helps develop positive ideas about their capabilities)

·      Success follows persistence

Parental Involvement = accurate, healthy self-perceptions

·      Feel loved.  

·      Feel capable

·      Feel appreciated (by parents and others)

·      Feel confident in decision making

·      Feel independent

·      Feel that they heard

·      Feel their opinions count

·      Feel encouragement

·      Develop mutual respect

·      Feel successful

Warning signs of Unhealthy Self-Esteem

·      Hesitant to try new things

·      Frequently speaks negatively about self

·      Easily frustrated

·      Gives up self power easily

·      Looks for someone else to take over/lead

·      View temporary situations and set backs as permanent

·      Pessimistic

·      Behavioral problems

Signs of Healthy Self-Esteem

·      Easily interacts with others

·      Enjoy others. Is comfortable in social situations

·      Can separate self from disappointments

·      Can ask for help and admit they don’t understand something

·      Knows and accept their strengths and weaknesses.

·      Optimistic

·      Sense of identity

·      Independence

·      Motivation

·      Persistance

What Parents Can Do

·      Love, unconditionally

·      Start from the time they are born to make them feel safe, secure, loved, and valued.

·      Mind your words. Kids are sensitive to what parents say.

·      Praise your child for both efforts and for jobs well done.

·      Praise frequently

·      Be honest

·      Positively acknowledge their efforts and completion of tasks despite the outcome.

·      Be a role model. Nurture your own self-esteem. Watch what you say in relation to yourself. They’re listening and affected by it.

·      Help develop a healthy self-concept by helping them set more accurate standards for themselves.

·      Be affectionate. Your love will boost their self-esteem.

·      Give positive, accurate feedback.

·      Acknowledge their feelings

·      Reward positive choices (will foster right choices in the future)

·      Give them a safe, loving home environment

·      Be aware of signs of trouble outside of the home

·      Help kids get involved. (Mentoring, volunteering, helping a    younger sibling will boost self-esteem)

·      Encourage them to express themselves (both the good and the bad)

·      Teach them to respect the opinions of others and not let others disrespect them

·      Teach strategies to help them say no to things that go against their values and beliefs.

·      Make them feel special

·      Let them make mistakes

·      Encourage them

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny. 

Ryan Caffro

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