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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Developing Your Child's Self-Esteem

By Andrew Loh

Self-esteem is a popular term in psychology. It reflects your own overall evaluation or self-appraisal about self-worth or value. Self-esteem is a set of core beliefs about yourself and personality. It is also a package of a series of emotions like a feeling of self-victory, despair, pride, shame, sadness, happiness and empowerment. There are two ways of looking at self-esteem. One relates to what you think about yourself, your core beliefs, and the other is an earnest self-evaluation of yourself (either positive or negative) or it is the “how you feel about yourself” concept.

Simply speaking, self-esteem is a personal collection of beliefs or feelings that you have about yourself. It is also your self-perception of your abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Self-esteem could severely influence your internal motivations, attitudes and behaviors. Self-esteem may also play a vital role in adjusting your internal emotions those are not visible to external world.

Self-esteem is an important psychological concept in children. Self-esteem starts taking shape right in the first month of your baby's life. For example, a toddler's life is a series of physical and mental accomplishments. Crawling on the belly, sitting up, standing, walking and talking are all-important physical and mental milestones. As and when the baby becomes successful in reaching milestones, he or she will sense a feeling of pride and accomplishment. Each accomplishment will help the toddler to improve and bolster self-esteem. A series of failed attempts to crawl and sit and eventual successful accomplishment of those tasks will instill a “can-do” attitude that eventually leads to improvement in self-esteem.

Self-esteem and success are closely interlinked. Success breeds a sense of accomplishment. A series of small accomplishment will lead to building up of self-esteem in children. As children achieve better success levels, their sense of self-esteem will also go up. Building self-esteem is a long process that continues until the end of life. The extent of self-esteem a child will possess in later stages of life depends on the quality of foundation that the child gets in the childhood days (Learn more about A Kid's Guide to Boosting Confidence and Self-esteem here).

Self-esteem is a self-induced concept. In other words, your children build a sense of self-esteem without their conscious effort. It occurs invisibly and one can never see it nor feel it. However, the outward manifestation of high or low self-esteem is visible very clearly. The children will somehow express it through their words, actions and demeanor. In many instances, children with low self-confidence often tend to use many negative words like:

  • I am not intelligent

  • I am a failure

  • I am so skinny

  • I am too fat

  • I do not look good

  • I would be very happy if I were intelligent like my classmates

  • I would be so glad if I had hair like her

  • I do not have the intelligence to pass in that exam

  • My classmates are better than me

The list is endless! In fact, a child with very low esteem tends to invent specific reasons to degrade his or her personality. Self-esteem is a very powerful personality concept. It can work like a sharp knife to cut both ways. Positive self-concept is a positive idea while negative one will have a series of serious consequences in life. Self-esteem could affect many aspects of life - both personal and professional. Children who do not have self-esteem tend to:

  • Feel that they do not belong in this world

  • Feel that they are incapable of learning lessons

  • Feel that they cannot accomplish or achieve anything tangible in life

  • Feel that they are useless and that they cannot contribute positive things in life

On the contrary, children with positive self-esteem feel proud and confident with a sense of belonging in the world. Children with positive self-esteem tend to:

  • Feel that they belong to the world

  • Feel that they can contribute positive things to the world

  • Feel that they can handle crisis and emergencies in life

  • Feel that they can pass their tests very easily

  • Feel that they are better than others

Parents and teachers are the great sources of positive influence on the children. In fact, they can contribute a lot to develop positive self-esteem in their children. Positive parents and teachers are the catalysts to breed positive self-esteem in children. Children with healthy self-esteem are responsible and productive in their life. In addition, they are also empowered with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their personal and professional life. Continue to read Developing Your Child's Self-Esteem - Practical Empowering Techniques here.


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