As adults we need to recognize that our successes and failures are mere historical reminders of events that have occurred in our lives. Likewise, children need to be taught, that while successes and failures are a makeup of our history, that we do not need to identify with our successes nor our failures. For we are no more our successes than we are our failures. If you look to the past for reassurance, your approval will be overshadowed by events that have previously occurred in your life. Reminding children that their successes and their failures are mere reminders of their historical achievements is essential in developing a positive sense of self. Successes and failures are simply our attempt to live life. We will most assuredly fail and succeed throughout our lives. Moreover, those events that we consider failures and successes should prove learning tools rather than barriers with which we live our lives.
Children need to be reminded that they are special, unique, and worthy. When children fail or succeed, encourage them by expressing how proud you are of them, for attempting whatever they set out to achieve. Reinforce the positive and reject the negative. Don’t say, “if you had tried harder, then you would have succeeded.” Rather, “I am proud that you attempted __________ and I believe in you.”
Provide a home that is positively influential. Children should be reminded on a frequent basis how valuable they are, how precious they are, how intelligent they are, and how capable they are, and that your love, acceptance, and approval of them are without conditions.
Children not only develop a positive self-esteem through how you see them, but also how they see themselves. Therefore, it is important that you monitor your children’s view of their own person. Ask your children to identify their positive qualities. Have your children recognize that they are intelligent, and worthy of unconditional love and acceptance.
Children who have developed healthy self-esteems and are safe-guarded have a higher likelihood of becoming socially involved. They are more apt to challenge life itself, partake of lives challenges, and ward off lives negative forces. Children with a healthy perception of self are less likely to get tangled up into the web of gossip, bullying, and negative school related matters. They are more likely to offer a child who presents vulnerable a hand up. Children who have a positive perception of the world are more apt to share such a perception with others.
In the end, children need an ear to hear; a voice to liberate; a shoulder to lean upon; and arms to be wrapped around them. Showing your children affection will encourage them, reassure them, and reaffirm their need for unconditional acceptance, approval and love.
If your children express a low emotional state; appear downtrodden or display negative perceptions, they may need professional counsel. Finding a professional therapist is vitally important to safeguarding your children against the repercussions of negativity.
Canadian Mental Health Association (2011) Children and self-esteem. Retrieved April 9, 2011, http://www.cmha.ca/bins/content_page.asp?cid=2-29-68
Manassis, K. (1996) Keys to parenting your anxious child. Hauppague, New York: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc.
McKay, M., Fanning, P. (2000) Self-Esteem third edition, A proven program of cognitive techniques for assessing, improving and maintaining your self-esteem. Oakland, California: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA