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Why Our Children Need Healthy Self-Esteem

That's why parents must encourage and promote health esteem early in a child's life.

Frequent praise and encouragement go a long way in helping a child develop ideas about their own capabilities. If a child does not achieve something on the first or second try, continue to encourage them to try again to instill a sense of accomplishment and reward in perseverance.

Experts caution parents against focusing "too" much on any one area, like math homework, which can lead to a child feeling like their value is only as high as their last test score.

A child with low self esteem is often super critical of themselves. Rather than view a defeat as one failed try, they see it as a permanent, irreparable condition. They see themselves as "idiots" for being unable to meet a challenge, whereas a healthy child might ask for additional direction or support rather than give-up on a task.

This kind of pessimism puts them at risk for mental health issues, and also contributes to nearly certain future difficulties in managing challenges .

There are things parents can do to help foster healthy self esteem in their child(ren). They include:

  • Watch your Words Remember that that "little voice" we hear inside our heads often originates from early messages we hear from others. That doesn't mean you have to lie and tell your son that his last place finish was an amazing victory. You might offer praise of the effort, particularly if the attempt required courage.
  • Praise incremental accomplishments Success often follows smaller, incremental attempts, so, where possible, encourage your child along the way.
  • Provide a safe and loving environment Kids that feel safe and loved thrive. Whereas children who face abuse or a hostile home environment often have low self esteem.
  • Lead by example Help your child recognize what they are really good at, and let them know that it's okay to have weaknesses as well by sharing your own strengths and limitations.
  • Squash negativism and defeatist attitudes Listen to what your kids say about themselves. Counsel and correct unhealthy statements. So if your child says I'll never be a good reader, you might remind them that they are a great student and that for them, their reading skills might take more time and attention to develop.
  • Provide balanced feedback Be careful not to over praise or under-promote your child. If you suspect that your child has low self-esteem, get help from a professional therapist or counselor, who can help identify coping strategies to help your child deal with challenges.

Editor's Note: This copy was reviewed by PsychSystems, a behavioral health group practice.

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