Your child’s self–esteem and confidence are vital components in her emotional health because they are foundations for self-belief and resilience. The two will prepare her to fight negative self-assessment, while trusting in her abilities to manage life challenges with grit.
Both self-esteem and confidence are intertwined and can significantly impact a child’s overall well-being and development. They influence how children perceive and interact with the world around them, the choices they make, and how they respond to challenges and setbacks.
Building and nurturing these qualities in children is essential for their emotional, social, and academic growth.
NOTE: Oftentimes, the development of your child’s self-esteem and confidence can be hindered by ADHD or misjudged ‘performance issues’ at home and school. The latter points to parental misunderstanding of what a child can or cannot achieve or do!
Instead of classifying your child as lacking in intelligence, focus on helping her find out where her true abilities lie. In so doing, you are helping her discover her hidden talents, while facilitating self esteem and confidence.
A child with developed self-esteem and confidence has the following traits:
- Believes in herself
- Is positive about self & others
- Is genuine
- Feels loved and loves back
- Relates with people easily
- Is productive in life
On the other hand, a child with low self-esteem and confidence,
- has self-doubt
- is self critical
- does not feel loved
- has poor social life
- may want to use others (self-entitled)
- is less productive
Self-esteem and confidence in the 21st century
The state of child self-esteem and confidence in the 21st century is contrasted to the last century because of the extensive influence of technology and modern culture on young generations.
For example, social media platforms have a big influence on child mental health because they define who they are and how others perceive them.
The design of these platforms dictates that youngsters compete by posting attractive and exotic representations of themselves. In return, they expect positive responses and a big social media fan base.
These, they assume, help them create an important image of themselves.
Those that outshine others are usually confident about themselves, but run the risk of being bullish, selfish, and self-entitled. They are also subject to low self-esteem, because deep inside they know they are not who the internet perceives them.
On the other hand, those who receive less engagement on social media have low self-esteem, because they feel unpopular and not valued by peers.
Self esteem versus self confidence
Self-esteem and confidence are commonly used interchangeably to mean the same thing. However, they refer to two different states of self-appraisal and capabilities.
Your child’s self-esteem describes her sense of worth and value, and how positive she feels about herself.
She is positive about the real her and does not fear failure or rejection – much as she may feel disappointed in these circumstances. Even in the face of failure, she is quick to her feet because of her self-belief.
A child with developed self-esteem does not have to rely on worldly prizes, such as money and status, or other extremes, to feel good about herself. She is self-aware and respectful of life in relation to others.
On the other hand, self-confidence describes your child’s trust in her abilities to accomplish tasks successfully. She will trust in her grit to beat the odds in her path.
Your confident child will want to succeed, seize opportunities, and make ground where others are struggling. Overall, her confidence will become better with experience, in addition to investment in courage.
Also true, your child may develop confidence in one area and yet struggle in another. This explains why she may excel in athletics and yet struggle with tasks in mathematics! Likewise, she may be confident on the dance floor and yet poor at singing.
Children can also feel confident but lacking in self-esteem, or vice versa.
On the one hand, one child can be so popular, outgoing, and successful with peers, yet so much in internal pain when alone. On the other hand, another child may lack all the material benefits and fame the world has to offer, and yet be so much at peace with herself.
What you can do to help your child
1. Give constructive criticism and feedback
Criticism and correction are feedback channels through which you and your child sort out bad behavior and life choices. The two describe your response techniques when your child does something wrong or fails to follow instructions.
If handled badly, criticism lowers your child’s self-esteem by making her feel inadequate. This can create room for stress and anger issues and other psychological challenges.
Constructive criticism should aim to correct bad habits and bad behavior. It is a communication channel that is not used to judge the child.
Reach out and listen to your child to understand her point of view, in relation to what she has done wrong. This gives her the room to give correct feedback and probably correct your bias, especially when she knows she is innocent.
Oftentimes parents scream at the top of their voices based on the conclusions they have already made. Even if a child is wrong, she is only a child and going through a learning curve that adults went through when still young.
Calmly make your child know what she has done wrong and what she should have done right. Most importantly, she should avoid repeating the mistake, but again, it is not criminal if she does.
Make a point to explain the consequences of wrong decisions and choices, and the importance of doing the right thing.
By engaging in constructive criticism and feedback, your child learns from them and knows there is always a way out of her troubles.
2. Refrain from helicopter parenting!
It is pointless to hover over your child and provide all that she wants simply because you want her to feel safe. Allow her to see the world in her own eyes and take decisions for herself.
Also called helicopter parenting, hovering and pampering will give your child a false sense of importance and entitlement. This can lead to battered self-esteem and confidence, when real-life comes kicking in!
Allow her to experience both positive and negative emotions and life challenges, to make informed decisions based on what she has experienced.
Your child should be allowed to plan her own activities, navigate social life with other kids, and get emotionally battered, here and there. While at it, she will think about these problems and learn to solve them.
On your part, endeavor to sit back and observe. Let her stumble, fall and stand up again. In the meantime, be her guardian angel by giving tips and support structures to get the job done. Let her know you are available when things go wrong, or she is suspicious about those she interacts with.
Through these processes, she gradually learn to beat the challenges associated with her self-esteem and confidence.
3. Teach self-evaluation ahead of praise
Praising your child is an excellent hack to make her know how proud you are of her achievements. But make sure to do it properly.
Do not over praise your child’s achievements. For example, do not make too much of an achievement where you know she underperformed. Oftentimes, your child too knows the truth and is disturbed by your false praises.
Instead, let her know there is room for improvement where she faltered.
Even when your child has excelled, you may want to first find out if she feels great about what she has achieved. Allow her to self-evaluate and see if there is room for improvement. Even better, she may want to find out if she is better at something else than what she is doing currently.
By focusing on where her strength lies, she will explore opportunities that will make her feel better and compete more favorably.
4. Focus on your child’s strengths
Quite often, parents tend to notice the bad in children before attention shifts to the good deeds.
This may seem the right thing to do, because you want your child to perform well in all areas. Unfortunately, this is a problem and may actually derail her effort to discover herself.
Every child has marked areas in life where they will excel and others where they will flounder. This is only normal, because no one can master all skills.
Pay attention to your child and learn what she loves to do. Focus on these other than her weaknesses, and you will certainly make her feel good about herself.
Focusing on your child’s strengths will prepare her to be resilient and optimistic on the road towards discovering herself. This ultimately gives her the self-confidence to do what she likes, because she does not feel misplaced.
5. Do not label your child
It is common to hear parents describe their children with negative labels, such as lazy, shy, picky eater, stupid, etc., without realizing how powerful these words can be.
Yes, we say these words with the best intentions, but that is not how kids perceive them.
They take these words the way they are presented, and see themselves in that light. Children do not think of converting lazy to hardworking, or stupid to intelligent.
Your child’s self-esteem receives a beating because she begins to associate herself with these labels and ultimately their meanings.
In any case, children are bound to change for the better as they grow, and labeling them will only slow down the progress. They will spend a lot of time trying to figure out why they are ‘not nice’ or ‘difficult’ instead of placing energy where it is needed.
6. Teach empathy and gratitude
A child’s self-esteem and confidence go hand in hand with how she feels about others and how others perceive her. She will feel at ease when others empathize with her during challenging moments.
Likewise, she must also learn to put herself in the shoes of peers, during trying moments such as bullying. By thinking about the feeling of her peers and siblings, your child will become better at emotional intelligence and of course self-esteem.
For example, if you are financially secure, explain to your child that there are individuals who are less fortunate in life. That does not, however, make them less human. Instead, your child can learn to empathize with them to understand what they go through, and maybe extend some form of gratitude.
Aside from that, your child can join volunteer activities to help people who are less fortunate in life.
7. Talk with your child about social media and technology
Social media and other niceties in the 21st century are part of your child’s life, and there is almost nothing you can do to keep her away from them. Yes, the new age treats have their positives, and yet can hijack your child’s emotional development.
Much as they promote communication and are a popular source of information, there are emotional challenges that come with extended indulgence.
According to JAMA Psychiatry
Adolescents who spend more than 3 hours per day on social media may be at heightened risk for mental health problems, particularly internalizing problems.
And according to a study published in 2017,
Increases in Depressive Symptoms, Suicide-Related Outcomes, and Suicide Rates Among U.S. Adolescents After 2010 and Links to Increased New Media Screen Time
It is also true that prolonged use will expose them to problems such as bullying, stalking, and falsification of information. They may also be caught in the trap of perpetuating lies about themselves through edited selfies and other digital manipulations.
It is important to let your child know it is not healthy to binge on the internet for hours. Help her understand how to stay away from toxic chats and groups, while valuing people more than only pictures and other digital forms.
She should also be aware of the pitfalls of likes, emojis, and other addictive practices with peers online. They are distractions that should be avoided at all costs.
Social media platforms must therefore not dissuade her from seeing life as it is (real), and not something to toy with. The more she stays away from these enticements, the more likely your child’s self-esteem and confidence will remain in the right course of development.
8. Be a role model
You have probably heard the following phrases being said again and again in reference to the parent-child relationship:
- The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
- A chip off the old block
- Like father, like son
- Like two peas in a pod
- She is definitely her mother’s daughter
For one, if you have a good sense of self-esteem and confidence, it is more likely your child will have the same, and will look up to you as a positive influence.
Modeling the right sense of self-esteem and confidence goes a long way in fostering the right mental health in children.
When you excel in whatever you do, you are definitely wiring your child’s brain to do the same. At the end of the day, what you are is what your child will become.
Q and A on Self-esteem and Confidence
Q: What are some signs of low self-esteem in children?
A: Signs of low self-esteem in children may include excessive self-criticism, lack of confidence, social withdrawal, fear of failure, seeking constant approval, and difficulty handling criticism.
Q: How can parents and caregivers help boost a child’s self-esteem?
A: Parents and caregivers can boost a child’s self-esteem by offering unconditional love and support, providing constructive feedback, encouraging their interests and strengths, setting realistic goals, promoting a positive body image, and fostering a safe and nurturing environment.
Q: What role does encouragement play in developing a child’s confidence?
A: Encouragement plays a crucial role in developing a child’s confidence. When children receive genuine praise and support for their efforts, they are more likely to believe in themselves, take risks, and persevere even when faced with challenges.
Q: How can teachers promote self-esteem and confidence in the classroom?
A: Teachers can promote self-esteem and confidence in the classroom by creating a supportive and inclusive environment, providing opportunities for success, offering constructive feedback, fostering collaboration and teamwork, and acknowledging and celebrating individual achievements.
Q: What are some practical activities or exercises that can help children enhance their self-esteem?
A: Some activities to enhance self-esteem in children include journaling or keeping a gratitude diary, engaging in physical activities or sports that they enjoy, encouraging them to set and achieve goals, promoting positive self-talk and affirmations, and engaging in activities that allow them to express themselves creatively.
Remember, these answers are meant to provide a general understanding, and it’s important to tailor the approach to each child’s unique needs and circumstances.
There are many things you can do to boost your child’s self-esteem and confidence. Discover them and use them to help your child perfect her worth and self-belief.
Besides what has been listed above, you can also
- allow your child to express herself in public
- allow her to play with you and peers
- let her write and read wide to expand her knowledge and language
- allow her to learn and experiment with many skills in life
- teach her to value herself above negative opinions
Also of note, it is crucial that parents, caregivers, and teachers pay particular attention to children with slow processing abilities, dyslexia, ADHD, and other learning challenges. They too deserve fitting opportunities to help them build their self-esteem and confidence.