Expert tips to help build you child’s positive self-perceptions.

By Samara Fabrick
SamaraSelf-esteem is a term we hear a lot in child rearing, but what is it and why is it important?

Self-esteem can be defined in many ways, but I define it as the collection of beliefs or feelings we have about ourselves or “self-perception.” In children I would add that self-esteem is the feelings of capability and confidence combined with feelings of being loved. Helping our children build their self-esteem is one of the most important responsibilities we have as parents.

So why is self-esteem important and how do we as parents help build our children’s positive self-perceptions?

Healthy self-esteem is a child’s armor against the challenges of the world. Children with good self-esteem have an easier time handling conflict, acting independently, and assuming responsibility. In addition, children with high self-esteem handle peer pressure more appropriately, are able to create healthy, secure and honest relationships and are less likely to develop eating disorders, depression and other mental health conditions.

On the contrary kids with low self-esteem often find challenges to be a source of anxiety and frustration.
They have more difficulty finding solutions to problems, often become passive, withdrawn or depressed, and have low frustration tolerance. Kids with low self-esteem are often more pessimistic, overly critical and disappointed in themselves and their first response to a new challenge is “I can’t”.

One of the easiest ways to build a child’s self-esteem is by helping them build confidence. Feeling competent in completing tasks fuels confidence. It is important to remember that competence and confidence are an internal reaction to ones own actions and so it is imperative that you help your child feel proud of what they have done and not just sit on the side lines and say “good job.” Here is a list of tools for parents to use to build and create self-esteem in their children.

  • Find out what your kid is good at and encourage competency in those areas
  • Help your child develop coping strategies
  • Help your child set and achieve goals
  • Give your child emotional support, love and affection
  • Listen to your kid
  • Be concerned about their problems and give accurate feedback
  • Be a positive role model and nurture your own self-esteem
  • Create a safe and harmonious home
  • Be available to give competent organized help, when they need it
  • Identify and redirect your child’s inaccurate beliefs
  • Help kids become more involved in constructive experiences
  • Set clear and fair rules and boundaries

If you feel that your child has low self-esteem, I strongly encourage parents to get some professional help on this matter. A positive self-concept follows a person around for the rest of their lives and effects schooling, careers, friendships, mental health and intimate relationships. It is never too late to start building self-esteem.
Samara Fabrick is a licensed psychotherapist in Beverly Hills specializing in life issues.