In children, self-esteem is influenced not only by their own internal perceptions and expectations but by how they are thought of and treated by parents, siblings, teachers, coaches and friends. How people value themselves, get along with others, perform at school, achieve at work and relate in marriage all stem from their self-image, and it all begins in childhood. In addition, parents need to be good role models for their children and exhibit good self-esteem themselves because their children will follow their example, good or bad, writes Mason Gomberg, MD, a pediatrician in our Westchester Health Pediatrics group, in a recent blog.
12 characteristics your child needs to develop for positive self-esteem
- A sense of security. Your child needs to know he/she is loved and cared for, and to feel secure about himself/herself, his/her place in the family and the future. (“Do I matter?” “Where am I going in life?”)
- Belonging. Your child needs to feel accepted by others, beginning with your family and then extending outward to groups: friends, schoolmates, sports teams, religious organizations and clubs.
- A sense of purpose. Your child can greatly benefit from goals that give him/her purpose, direction and an outlet for achievement and self-expression. Without a sense of purpose, children easily feel bored, aimless and resentful when parents or other authority figures try to push them to achieve goals.
- Personal competence and pride. Your child should feel confident in his/her ability to meet the challenges of life. This sense of personal worth evolves from having successful life experiences in solving problems, being creative, achieving goals and getting results for efforts.
- Your child needs to feel trust from you. It’s important for you to keep your promises, be supportive of what he/she is going through in all stages of life, and give your child opportunities to be trustworthy.
- Taking responsibility. Regularly give your child opportunities to show what he/she is capable of. Allow him/her to take on tasks without you checking in all the time.
- Contributing to something meaningful. Your child will develop a deeper sense of self-worth and belonging when he/she has opportunities to participate and contribute to something in a meaningful way.
- Making real choices and decisions. Your child will feel empowered and more in control of his/her life when he/she is able to make important decisions and experience the outcome of those decisions.
- Self-discipline and self-control. As children strive to gain more independence, they need to feel they can do things on their own without parents hovering over them all the time or making decisions for them.
- Encouragement, support and reward. All children need positive feedback and recognition—tangible signs that they are doing a good job and growing up.
- Accepting mistakes and failures. Your child needs to learn to keep going, not be defeated, when he/she makes mistakes or fails.
- Family self-esteem. Your child’s self-esteem starts right in your home, in your family, and is in large part influenced by the perceptions your family has of itself.
Concerned about your child’s self-esteem? Come see us.
If you would like some advice and guidance on helping your child develop good self-esteem, or if you have questions about any aspects of your child’s health and well-being, come in to see one of our pediatricians at Westchester Health. Together with you and your child, we’ll talk about what’s going on and come up with ways to strengthen your child’s positive sense of self-worth and value.
To read Dr. Gomberg’s blog in full, click here.