Factors Affecting a Child’s Self-Esteem

Contributed by Althea Bailey
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Child's self esteem

The Oxford Dictionary defines self-esteem as “an opinion of one’s own character.” When you have high self-esteem, it means you know you are a worthwhile person, someone worthy of love. You respect yourself and who you are. Self esteem results from thoughts and feelings that may be positive or negative. The more positive feelings lead to higher self esteem while the more negative feelings lead to lower self esteem. High self-esteem is also different from pride or being too conceited. People with high self-esteem like themselves but they don’t think they are perfect or better than other people.

While building good or high self-esteem in a child is mainly the responsibility of the parent, the quality of the relationships that the child has with people in spheres of influences outside of the home and family can also make an impact. The types of relationships and the messages that a child receives are very important in building self esteem. When the messages children receive from those people close to them are positive, friendly, and respectful they are more likely to develop a strong sense of self-esteem. If, on the other hand the child is rejected and not valued, then it will be more difficult for that child to love him or herself.

Having high self-esteem is very important for children as well as parents. It is quite common for parents with low self esteem to raise children who also have low self esteem and vice versa. Self esteem affects the way we live, act and feel about ourselves and others best place to buy new balance shoes. High self esteem can make you feel, capable, productive, effective and lovable. Low self esteem can make you feel worthless, incompetent, and unloved. Positive self esteem makes it less important what others think and say about you while people with negative self esteem are usually unassertive and live to please others. The most important reason for ensuring that children develop a positive self image is that it serves as an effective barrier to negative influences and behaviours.

Our values influence our self esteem and the choices that we make.  We usually make choices that are in line with our values and self esteem. Negative or poor self esteem reduce the chances of our children making good choices and maintaining personal values that may not be popular. Sometimes in order to fit in or to impress others, people including children ignore their values. For example a child at school who reports the misdemeanor of another may be labeled an “informer” by other children. In the Jamaican context an “informer” is viewed at best with ridicule and at worst with hostility and physical violence. A child who experiences or anticipates any of these responses and who has poor self esteem may not choose to “do the right thing”.

At all costs parents should avoid actions and relationships that can cause their children to develop low self esteem as this usually results in lack of self confidence and expectation of failure. Children with low self esteem can experience poor academic performance, a distorted view of self and others, lackadaisical attitudes and negativity because of their inability to be self motivated and to persist in spite of challenges Air Jordan 4 Retro. Things that cause poor self esteem in children include; verbal abuse, neglect, shaming the child and comparing the child negatively to others including siblings. Young people who are or have been exposed to violence, even violence delivered as discipline or care, are likely to have a very low self-esteem, and what’s worse, they often feel guilty and unworthy. Sometimes they may even feel that adults have the right to use violence against them.

There are also factors in the community and society that can affect the way your child perceives him or herself. It is important that you discuss things such as skin colour, hair texture, generally accepted norms of beauty and attractiveness. Help your child to accept that variety is natural and good. Help him or her to understand that people of all races, skin colours, body shapes and sizes can be attractive. Reinforce the fact that what is popular is not always wholesome or even correct. Make your child feel good about thinking independently and encourage him or her to make good and healthy choices based on facts and not  necessarily popularly held beliefs.

In order to raise emotionally healthy children with positive self esteem it is important that the parent love their child unconditionally despite of looks, disabilities or illnesses. Make your child feel loved and appreciated by praising them, hugging them and providing for their physical, emotional and spiritual needs Air Jordan 12 Sale. It is important that parents be positive and supportive of their child while providing guidance and direction and correcting mistakes. It is far more effective to provide positive reinforcement of good behaviours than to spend enormous amounts of time and energy enforcing punishments or shouting and screaming at a child. Don’t force your child to live out your dreams. Know your child’s personality, their likes and dislikes as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Help your child to discover his or her special talents. Encourage the child to be the best he or she can be at athletics, academics, art, music or whatever it is the child enjoys and does well. Remember a positive self image is one of the best weapons you can provide your child against negative influences and behaviours.


Photo: Poppy Thomas-Hill

Althea Bailey
Health promotion & Behaviour Change Communication, University of the West Indies Mona
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