Obviously, all parents know that calling their children names like “stupid” or “lazy” is unacceptable. What many don’t realise is that they may be ruining their kids’ self-esteem even without realising it. Low self-esteem in children causes them to lack the confidence to try new things. They give up easily, or not try at all.
Mums and dads, were your parents strict or lenient with you when you were growing up? While both parenting styles have their advantages and disadvantages, there is no arguing with the fact that both have a profound effect on how children grow up.
Here are some causes of low self-esteem in children, and how they can be affected in the long run.
Low Self-Esteem In Children Causes
1. Lack of parental support/involvement
It is difficult for the child to feel motivated enough to want more and try new things when his parents are not paying enough attention to him. It makes him feel forgotten, unwanted and unimportant.
It also makes him feel that none of his achievements really matter to anyone.
Self-esteem grows when kids see that what they do matters to others. Pay attention to what your child does well and enjoys. Make sure your child has chances to develop these strengths.
2. Getting angry if kids make a mistake or fail
When parents overreact to their child’s mistakes, it makes them afraid to try new things in the future. It’s important to use mistakes as a learning tool so that children have the confidence to handle mistakes in the future. Without this confidence, you will likely end up with a child who is always looking for the easy way out.
3. Comparing a child to their siblings or friends
We’ve all seen or heard parents do this innocently enough, “Look at how good your brother is at soccer” or “Wow, your sister got the highest score in the class”. These comments, while not intended to be hurtful, make a child feel like he is inferior to his peers and diminishes his sense of individuality.
4. Judging them based solely on their grades
Many parents place huge importance on grades from a young age and although it is understandable in Singapore where your PSLE scores determine what kind of schools you will be eligible for in the future, it can still be very detrimental for kids’ self-esteem.
For children who do not excel at school, this kind of emphasis solely on grades will make them feel like they can never be ambitious because they won’t succeed anyways.
5. Telling them that something they can’t do is easy
When your kids are struggling to learn something new like reading or basic arithmetic, it can be tempting to try to reassure them by telling them “Don’t worry, it’s so easy”.
Instead of helping them though, it makes kids worry why they can’t do something that is supposed to be so easy. It’s much better to say something along the lines of, “Reading these big words is hard, but I know you can do it.”
6. Criticising your own appearance or grumbling about your tasks
Mums, when you look in the mirror and make an off-hand comment about how your skin looks or that you need to lose weight, your kids will start to define themselves and their worth in terms of their looks.
Instead, teach your kids that the important characteristics are on the inside.
Also, as parents, we tend to crib a lot about the never ending pile of laundry and the work left to be done. But remember, your kids are watching you.
When you do tasks without grumbling or complaining, you teach your child to do the same. When you avoid rushing through chores and take pride in a job well done, you teach your child to do that too.
7. Telling your kids, “Good job”
Maybe the most surprising parental behaviour that is bad for a kid’s self-esteem is using the phrase “good job” indiscriminately.
When you say it for every small thing your kid does, they learn that they can get praise for very little effort. Ultimately, this makes kids dependent on receiving this kind of approval from superiors and peers and unable to achieve anything without it.
Instead, be sure to praise kids for their efforts and be specific about what they have done well.
8. Being a “helicopter” parent
We understand, you want to protect your little ones but when you become overprotective of them you are essentially sending the message to your kids that they are unable to do things for themselves without a parent stepping in.
Instead, teach your children to take responsibility for themselves and to learn to deal with the consequences of their actions.
How low self-esteem in children causes them harm
Building self-esteem starts very early. In fact, it starts from babyhood. A baby who is loved and cared for feels safe and accepted.
As babies grow up and start meeting their milestones, it is their parents’ support, love and encouragement which motivates them to try new things and develop their skills.
Kids with self-esteem:
- feel wanted and accepted
- feel confident
- feel proud of what they can do
- think good things about themselves
- believe in themselves
- are able to cope with mistakes and failure better
Low self-esteem in children causes them to:
- be self-critical and hard on themselves
- lack the confidence to try new things, and give up easily
- doubt they can do things well
- feel like they’re not as good as other kids
- think of the times they fail rather than when they succeed
Use Positive Parenting To Help Raise Your Child’s Self-Esteem
Image Source: Pexels
Children with positive self-esteem have enough confidence to recognise their abilities and even their shortcomings. When a child’s self-esteem is balanced, he is curious to try out new things, make mistakes, learn and grow. For a child with self-esteem issues, the first step feels like a daunting task.
Building positive self-esteem is all about having a balanced mind and a positive attitude towards life and that’s required at every stage as you grow up. And that’s why parents need to make an effort and enforce positive parenting techniques to ensure their child has a positive outlook towards life. Here a few ways you can apply positive parenting to raise your child’s self-esteem.
1. Use Encouraging Words
Instead of glorifying their achievements, you need to make it a point to encourage their efforts. The end result is always a combination of the different levels of effort that your child has made for a particular task. When you appreciate the effort, it gives him enough confidence to go back and try again irrespective of the result. In simpler terms, encouraging words will help your child stay grounded while building his self-worth.
There can’t be a simpler way of doing this but listening to your child. Your child seeks approval in their lives from you, especially at that young age and will come to you with their stories, ideas, worries and fears. Make it a point to always keep that communication channel open. Obviously, conversations like these can’t look like a boardroom meeting and sometimes you will have to take the fun route for your child to open up.
Play a game of Highs/Lows where you ask your child their good and bad moments of the day. You can also ask them about how they could’ve done things differently if given the opportunity.
For older children and teenagers, sometimes it’ll help to bridge that generation gap and become a friend to them. Lend an ear as a peer would and hear them out. Remember that first heartbreak? Your child may be going through that right now. They’ll appreciate the support even if they don’t show it.
Image Source: Pexels
3. Teach Self-Care
Children learn quickly, especially when we instil confidence in them to achieve anything. The idea is to set reasonable levels of expectation and then allow your child to achieve them, boosting their confidence. And that comes from self-care. Your little one should be capable enough to take care of himself, body and belongings at home. This could start with simple tasks like arranging their own toys or cleaning their room. You also instil discipline when you start showing confidence in them by assigning tasks.
4. It’s Okay To Make mistakes
Your child will not get things right the first time. Sometimes, it’ll be a couple of tries before your child achieves the end goal. Making mistakes is a part of your child’s growth curve and you need to create an environment where it is okay to do so. Each mistake is an opportunity to learn. The art of forgiveness is as important as the mistake and your child needs to learn this from you. So let them make that mistake as long as they are learning from it.
5. Use Positive Discipline
Parenting can’t be all hunky-dory every day. You will see bad days when you lose your cool, your child is throwing tantrums and you have to punish the little one. It’s a part of the parenting process and it’s all right to do so. However, you need to use these instances to enable positive discipline. This means working with your child, no matter how troublesome they are, to cooperate with you.
The idea is to bring respect to the relationship of a parent and child, which help your young one feel secure, loved and understood. Avoid playing the blame game or giving out harsh punishments. At the end of the day, parenting needs to be a mix of positive and stern moments to mould your child the right way and building balanced self-esteem.
Mums and dads, are you guilty of doing any of these things?
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