But I’m not clever enough to do that…Why our children need guidance in supporting their self-esteem.

More and more we are seeing a dramatic decrease in our children’s ability to recognise their own strengths. Being a teacher, I hear children on a daily basis speak negatively of themselves and especially their ability to even try a new task. The once popular child attitude of just trying anything is slowly disappearing and it is vital we stamp this negative cycle out. You wouldn’t want your child to grow up and not believe in themselves. You wouldn’t want them to grow up and think they aren’t good at things. If this is the case, then why are so many children experiencing mental health issues relating to a lack of confidence and self-esteem?

When our children develop without much parental input they begin to struggle to find that inner motivation. If they are not recognised by their parents, left to their own devices, the positive things they achieve no matter how big or small often go unmissed and therefore un-praised. This lack of recognition is a key reason for children living in today's society not getting the support they require to build the foundations for developing self-esteem. We must pay attention to our children. Spend time talking to them about what they enjoy and notice the things they do particularly well. 

A major part of growing up is making mistakes. Within schools, promoting a growth mindset is one of the core elements of classroom ethos. Being able to make mistakes helps them install a drive to try things in the future. If our children are constantly scolded for making mistakes, they begin to associate mistakes with a negative reaction and therefore become afraid to try new things, taking the easy way out. For many parents, results are extremely important. Not saying that this is the wrong frame of mind to have but it can be extremely detrimental for children who are less academic than others. Directly linked to this is the comparison to sibling or friends. Comments such as “look how good your brother is at maths” is not meant to be said in a harmful way however it is likely to make a child feel diminished and knock their self-esteem. 

The words “don’t worry it will be easy” often slips our mouths when trying to convince a child to take part in a task they might find tricky or a task they’ve not yet done before. Although meant in a supportive manner, it can be devastating for a child that then finds the task quite hard. They begin to feel a lack of self-worth because the task is meant to be ‘easy’. Self-confidence can be completely knocked because they strongly believe it should be something they can complete, if they find it hard, this must mean that they’re not good enough.  It makes a child worry before they even start a task, instead reframe the sentence to something like “reading these big words might be tricky, but I Know you will be able to.”

Children learn a lot through watching people they look up to, especially their parents. In order to help develop children’s self-esteem we must model complimenting our inner characteristics. If we constantly comment on our weight issues, how horrible our skin looks, we teach our children that they are defined by their looks and their self-worth is dependent on how they look. Promoting positive character traits allows them to look deeper into what makes a person special and begin to recognise their own individual traits. The same goes when completing household chores. If you are one to constantly moan about how long jobs take and how the washing never seems to finish, your child is constantly watching and picking up on this. We need to ensure we teach children to complete these tasks with us, without the complaining and take pride in completing a job properly. This way we can bring our children up to also be proud of the things they achieve. 

The easiest way to start helping your child improve their self esteem is by simply paying attention and verbally praising when they do a good job. It is vital however that you choose the right time to say it. If you say “good job” to all the small tasks they do you teach them that they can get praise for very little effort. Which doesn’t bode well for setting a child up who will take on a challenge and try new things. Instead, you need to be selective of what you praise them for and at the same time be specific about what it is they have done well. 

A child builds their self-esteem from day one. As our babies grow up, the support, attention and love they receive from their parents begins to offer them encouragement and drive their motivation to keep trying new things and inevitably develop their skills. Children with good self-esteem feel wanted and accepted, they are confident and feel proud of what they do, they can identify things they can do well and their positive traits, they believe in themselves and are much more able to come with mistakes and challenging situations. 

Children who have low self-esteem are often very critical of themselves and lack confidence to try anything new or give up very easily. Before they even start a task they might talk themselves out of it because they doubt their own ability. They might also feel like they’re not as good as other children and constantly think about times they have failed rather than when they have been successful. 

If you have a child who is struggling with any of the above issues, Future Footsteps Coaching and Therapy offer a range of workshops designed specifically around your children’s needs to help them become the best version of themselves. Allowing them to move forward and live a more confident life having developed their own sense of self-worth and improved their self-esteem. Through guided therapies your child can engage in activities that research shows have a positive impact on children’s confidence. For more information and to book your free consultation, get in touch now!



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