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How to Enhance Your Child’s Self Esteem: Simple steps that cost you nothing but can make your child feel so much valued.

How to Enhance Your Child’s Self Esteem: Simple steps that cost you nothing but can make your child feel so much valued. May 11, 20214 Comments

Ogedengbe Oshiomah Rosemary, PhD.

What is self Esteem? – Individuals have different beliefs or perceptions about themselves which we refer to as self concept. The way individuals perceive themselves or the beliefs they hold about themselves determine the worth they ascribe to themselves known as self worth. An individual’s self – worth, which is whether a person thinks that they are of great worth or of little or no worth, influences the amount of value they place on themselves or how much importance they attach to themselves, and this is generally referred to as self -esteem. Self – esteem is simply how much importance a person attaches to him or herself. In other words, a person’s self – esteem is how highly the person esteems him or herself.

Levels of self esteem – Self esteem can be-
• Inflated ( exaggerated) – This is when a person thinks more highly of themselves than normal or than they really are.
• Low Self – esteem – An individual with a low self-esteem believes that s/he is of little or no value or worth compared to others.
• High ( proper self -esteem) – An individual with high self – esteem believes that s/he is of great worth and value irrespective of circumstances.

How Does self – esteem affect Children?
Self esteem can affect children in different ways –
• Their level of confidence
• Belief or confidence in their abilities and this affects performance.
• Their level of assertiveness which can be a protective factor against peer pressure and abuse or a risk factor for abuse.
• Their relationships – A child with high self esteem will choose their friends but a child with low self esteem will fall for anyone that comes around.
• Children with low self esteem are usually easy preys for sex predators who use affection and love as baits.
• A young person’s self -esteem influences the types of goals they set and their overall achievement in life.

How Do Children Develop their Self -Esteem?
Children rely mostly on feedback from their significant others ( people who are important to them), such as their parents, guardians, caregivers, older siblings, aunts and uncles, teachers .
If a child gets positive feedback consistently or most of the time, the child tends to like, appreciate or value him or herself , and consequently develops a high self esteem. On the contrary, if a child receives negative feedback consistently or most of the time, the child tends to have little or no appreciation or value for him/ herself, and consequently develops low self esteem.

Ways parents or adults express feed back –
• Verbal feed backs –derogatory or enhancing remarks about the child.
• Physical feed back – touch, physical closeness to or distance from the child
• Material feed back – attitude to material provision for the child- whether significant others are responsive to the child’s material needs, eg clothes, food, school fees, or not.
• Attitude to a child’s emotional needs – Presence and attentiveness – how much time you give, to just be around, to listen , to share,

‘ Parents’ Behaviours that Could Inhibit Children’s Development of Proper Self -esteem.

  1. Negative labelling – lazy boy, dull girl, thief, etc.
  2. Negative comparison with their siblings or peers on the basis of their weaknesses.
  3. Discarding ( writing off)
  4. Not acknowledging their abilities, strengths, efforts.
  5. Discrimination – forgetting their special days while others’ days are usually celebrated. Giving a child smaller portions of food, lower quality of clothes and other provisions than what other siblings are provided.
  6. Abuse – Physical , verbal, emotional or sexual abuse.
  7. Neglect- Ignoring a child’s physical, emotional or educational needs.
  8. Harsh and repeated criticism.
  9. Isolation – Not allowing a child to socialize with people or their peers, or play with other children in the home

  1. Simple Ways to Enhance or Help Children to Develop Proper Self-esteem

  1. Make them feel loved and special by what you call them – use endearments, such as angel, darling, prince, princess.
  2. Give verbal expression to your love for them – Tell the child, “I love you.”
  3. Be responsive to your child’s needs. Provide for children adequately. Show concern even when you are not able to meet certain needs at a particular time. Don’t ignore the child or pretend that the need does not exist.
  4. Give correction in love – attack a bad behaviour but not the child.
  5. Provide opportunities to develop self- efficacy – stop doing for them, things they ought to do for themselves.
  6. Give room for children to develop assertiveness – Don’t always shut them down. Allow them to express themselves at home so that they would be able to assert themselves outside the home.
  7. Acknowledge and commend their efforts.
  8. Recognize and celebrate their strengths, talents, special abilities.
  9. Celebrate their achievements – graduation from nursery or pre school, primary, secondary school, university.
  10. Serve them food in a dignifying way.
  11. Give positive affirmation – you are beautiful, you are handsome, you are a strong girl, you are focused, you are intelligent.
  12. Seek psychological treatment for abuse or any experience that could inhibit a child’s self – esteem.


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