While we all have self-doubts at times, it is important for children to feel okay about themselves most of the time. Healthy self-esteem is feeling good about yourself, and feeling that you are a worthwhile person. Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself as a person and knowing that there are things that you can do well. Self-esteem is about what matters to you, about being and doing.
Children are not born with self-esteem. It is learned through how parents and other important people treat them and feel about them. Self-esteem enables them to reach out and make friends, to try new things without too much fear of failing, and to manage problems they are likely to meet along the way.
Self-esteem is about valuing who you are; it builds a solid foundation for coping with life. It is about self-respect and liking yourself. It is not conceit or boastfulness, but about believing in yourself and what you can do in the world. Low self-esteem is also likely to be linked to worse health outcomes such as stress, coronary heart disease and an increase in anti-social behaviors.
It is important to help develop children’s self-esteem from the time they are born to give them a good foundation for health later in adult life. Children of all cultures need to know they are loved because of the special people they are and need to have a place in the family.
In every culture there is a basic level of self-esteem that is needed in families; it helps people to feel that they can contribute to their community developing their own skills. Also, it gives you the confidence to have a go at something new and helps you build resilience to overcome setbacks.
It’s important to recognize that some people in some cultures believe that feeling good about your group or community is important while feeling good about yourself as an individual is not as valued. In some cultures, it’s common practice for parents not to praise their child for fear it will create a self-satisfaction that will prevent the child from trying harder.
In some cultures, praise is also avoided to prevent a child from becoming ‘boastful’. However, having personal confidence and self-esteem does not mean giving up these cultural values, but it can add to them. Children when they feel good usually try harder than those who don’t.
Young people who have a goal in life often have high self-esteem, as do those whose families support them. Young people’s self-esteem can be affected by the physical and hormone changes, and most importantly by how they look or how they think they look.
Young people are undergoing major changes in their lives as they prepare for adulthood and their self-esteem can often be shaky. Parents can help by showing that you believe in them and by encouraging them. Belonging to a group of friends is also very important to a young person’s self-esteem. This is why they seem so attached to social media and want to do whatever their friends are doing.