Raising a child can sometimes be a daunting task full of great responsibilities and moments of uncertainty about what to do. They are people, children who one day will become adults and who during these childhood years are providing the most important pillars of what their personality will be. On a psychological level, self-esteem is one of the most important characteristics of a person. But if mentally strong and self-confident adults have days of low self-esteem, what shouldn’t happen to a child who lives even more closely with helplessness and frustration? In the following article, we want to talk about self-esteem in children, the symptoms that manifest its absence, and how to build self-esteem in children.
It is not about raising recklessness, conceited, or believing capable of anything. Still, we must give our children the tools to adapt to the world, feel proud of who they are, and be aware of both their potential and their potential. Its limitations. To be aware that they can overcome the challenges that life will surely bring to them.
How to build self-esteem in a child?
Before starting, it is important to clarify the concepts we will discuss since many people get confused when we talk about terms such as self-esteem, confusing it with cockyness or vanity.
Self-esteem is a series of feelings and beliefs about ourselves, the perception of who we are. This way of observing ourselves, this mental image that we have configured about our capacities and limitations has a decisive influence on our behavior, attitude towards people, and the motivations we have in life.
Self-esteem and the patterns that will govern our behavior start from an early age. When we are babies, we feel a feeling of triumph and happiness when we complete a goal that we had set for ourselves and this feeling increases our self-esteem and makes us feel capable of facing new challenges. On the contrary, frustration acts negatively. But our self-esteem not only develops through our actions, as social beings, it also adjusts with interactions with the people around us, people who in childhood, mainly, are parents. This is why it is so important for parents to help their children develop a healthy image of themselves, which conforms to who they are.
This means that self-esteem is defined by the feeling of capacity for something and the feeling and feeling of being loved intervenes. A child who successfully achieves a goal but is not caring may develop low self-esteem. Similarly, another child who fails to achieve his goals and who has doubts about his abilities may be more balanced if he is given the necessary tools to raise his self-esteem.
The importance of self-esteem for the child
Self-esteem is a necessary shield to be able to face the challenges that come inherently in life. If children feel comfortable with themselves, they will be able to face the conflicts that come to them, on the other hand, children with low self-esteem will tend to feel frustration and anxiety, which will lead to greater difficulties in solving problems, ending up being withdrawn and passive, always hiding themselves in the “I cannot” or in the “I am not able”.
On the other hand, a child with low self-esteem can develop anxiety and frustration in the face of any challenge. Self-critical feelings will become more and more present and instead of seeking to solve the problems that appear, they will be pigeonholed into a perpetual “I can’t”.
Low self-esteem in children: symptoms
Like that of adults, children’s self-esteem is not stable over time but can fluctuate, change, and adjust depending on the person’s experiences and perceptions. The fact that we can provide a solution makes the ability to detect low self-esteem in children through their symptoms gain importance to know if your child’s perception of himself is adequate or not:
- Children who have low self-esteem do not want to try new experiences.
- They may negatively refer to themselves, for example saying that they will never learn anything, that no one cares about them, or that they are stupid.
- They give up easily and do not tolerate frustration.
- They expect someone else to do things for them.
- They are very critical and disappointed by themselves.
- They are usually pessimistic.
On the other hand, children with healthy self-esteem tend to act very differently:
- They enjoy being with other children and people.
- They are comfortable between groups of people and also when they are alone.
- They express negative emotions without the need to attack themselves. An example of this is that instead of saying “I’m stupid,” a child with healthy self-esteem will say, “I don’t understand.”
- They know what your strengths and weaknesses are.
- They are usually optimistic.
Show your love
It may seem obvious and the reality is that the vast majority of parents love their children, but loving them does not mean that they feel that way. Show him, tell him you love him, kiss him, hug him, and make him see that you accept him as it is that you don’t care if he is better or worse at something that loves is above his skills.
Something that you should start to put into practice is how you scold him when he does something wrong. The child must understand that what you are quarreling is how he has behaved, that it is not him, but what he has done. In no case should we tell him that it is bad, but we should opt for phrases such as “what you have done has not been good, do not do it again.”
Spend time with your child, quality time, individualized time. If you have more than one, it is good that you have a separate intimate moment with each of them: go for a walk, cook together, play, paying attention to him will create in him the feeling that he is an important and valuable person in your life.
Indeed, we do not always have all the time we would like. If that is your case, you should not torture yourself either. Just pay attention to him when he requires it. If he is talking to you, be attentive, look him in the eye, show him that what you say is not the same to you.
Set clear boundaries
The child has to have set rules that cannot be broken. No matter how many times you have to repeat it, there are certain rules with which you must be inflexible since this will give him security. For example, if you tell him that you cannot play ball at home, you should not allow him to do so. You must do it clearly and permanently.
Let him choose
Self-esteem must be fostered. We cannot treat him as someone inept and then expect him to be self-sufficient and trust his judgment. That is why from a young age, we must begin to offer you options that you can choose from, thus achieving that a criterion that you can trust is created. We must also be aware of their abilities. For example, we cannot make a 2-year-old child choose between many options. A good way is to give him a choice between 2: “What do you want gray pants or jeans?” As he grows, you will ask him about more options with 3, 4, 5, and more years, helping him build healthy self-esteem.
How to promote self-esteem in children
Tolerate mistakes and teach
Fights are not the solution to everything. Our goal is not to make you feel bad about your mistakes but to learn from them and not commit them again. If you put the glass too close to the edge of the table and it falls off with a crash, we should not scold you. It has happened to all of us and it is a logical mistake, do not make him feel bad about it. On the contrary, make him understand his mistake, ask him what he should have done to prevent that from happening, and so on.
Similarly, when you are the one who makes a mistake, you must admit it. That is the best way to teach your child that you can make mistakes, accept them and recover with all the peace of mind.
Help him be independent
You should encourage her to be independent and not put too much impediment on her. Understand that the world is made by and for adults, which often causes children to feel frustrated. What would go through your head if you could not undo the button on your pants if you did not reach the tap to brush your teeth if you needed someone to bring you everything? Make life easier for him by putting his toys in a place where he reaches, putting stools in the bathroom so he can be independent, and choosing clothes that he can put on himself. In this way, he will learn from a young age that he is an independent person who must do things for himself and that he will not always have his mother aware of everything he wants.
Reward the good things
We often focus on making him change the bad things he does and ignore what is good about him. To increase a child’s self-esteem, you must make an effort to recognize what he does well. We said the same thing when he was wrong. We have to apply it when he does something remarkable. “Good boy” or “you have behaved well” is not enough. It is better to recognize concrete actions so that he knows what you are rewarding: “I am proud of the effort you have put into this work, that effort has given you a reward, “I congratulate you on how well you have behaved throughout dinner.” This will make you realize that you have done something good and your self-esteem will pay off.
Try to put yourself in their place
We often evaluate children based on our criteria, which is why we view many of their practices as nonsense. For a 3-year-old, going out to play in the park is something wonderful, so if it rains and you can’t go, you might see it as something catastrophic. Instead of being angry about his tantrum, which is understandable, you should try to put yourself in his place and understand what he feels. From there, make you understand that, although you know how important it is to him, you cannot always do what you want and that the ways of expressing discontent are not kicking and tantrum. In this way, you make him feel that what he believes is important while you mold his character.
Strengthen self-esteem in adolescents and children
Do not make comparisons
Comparisons are always bad. They put the focus elsewhere and leave aside that the important thing is that your child is unique, with his strengths and weaknesses, but with healthy self-esteem and the ability to overcome problems. Avoid phrases like “Why don’t you study as Pedro does?” or “learn from your sister who is calm,” you can say the same without the need to compare it with other people. The same is true of positive comparisons, which can put you at a demand level that you cannot always reach. To learn to value himself, he must understand that you love him for who he is, not because he is better or worse than others.
Show by example
It is well known that many of the things that children learn they do by imitation and the main role model they have at their disposal are their parents. From them, they learn most of the things that will shape their personality. That is why it is very important to show that you have your self-esteem, that you are proud of what you achieve, and that you do not get frustrated or martyred when something does not go well.
Always cheer him on
As with adults, it is important that the child feels that there is someone behind him who, even if he fails, will be there to help him. We must not push him to succeed but encourage him along the way, showing him that he is progressing and that, if he continues like this, sooner or later, he will achieve it. The focus should not be on achievement but on the steps taken to achieve it.
When to go to the psychologist
Unfortunately, many people are still unaware of the task of the psychologist and they believe that the attention of these types of professionals is only necessary or desirable in some extreme cases. The reality is that mental health is just as important as physical. Just as we take our child to the doctor when he is unwell, we should consider seeking professional advice if we suspect that he has low self-esteem symptoms.
There they will offer therapy, activities for self-esteem in children and teach them to value themselves and understand the world positively. The sooner it is detected and the sooner you start working to change it, the easier it will be for your child to be happy.