In the first six years of life, the foundation for good childhood self-esteem is laid . The experiences at this age are very formative. At an early age, parents are primarily responsible for giving their children healthy self-confidence. However, both parents and teachers need to ensure that children’s self-esteem is strengthened.

Children who are often criticized, made fun of, or who can never please their parents are at risk of developing low child self-esteem at a young age . Therefore, it is even more important to  become aware of one’s own role in education and to strengthen the child’s self-confidence.

When children don’t feel well, their parents suffer too . You wonder how you can help your child gain self-confidence and self-esteem when going through difficult times like bullying. 

Bullying in children can quickly lead to other problems, such as school refusal and anxiety . The child doubts his self-esteem, is unhappy and withdrawn, feels small and may even be ashamed. Here you must intervene as a parent. Many adults do not know how to help. First of all, it is important to assess the situation correctly.

How to Identify Child Self-Esteem Problems 

Not all children openly talk about their problems, for example, being teased by classmates. Many children do not want to burden their parents or are ashamed of their situation. Even if there is a lot of conflict in the home, how much a child suffers from the situation is often overlooked. Here it is important to be particularly attentive as a parent. Typical signs of low self-esteem in children can be:

  • The child plays down, talks disparagingly about himself and doesn’t dare to do much for himself (“I can’t do that anyway”)
  • The child avoids new situations and develops anxiety instead of curiosity.
  • The child often compares himself to other children or wants to be someone else
  • Dislikes going to school / kindergarten
  • Child quickly becomes frustrated, irritated, and gives up easily
  • The child avoids social contacts with his peers
  • The child seeks a lot of acceptance and affection
  • The child is often sad
  • The child is extremely shy

If you notice that your child is displaying some or even many of the above symptoms, it is important to take action. The child will now need your full attention and help.

10 ways to strengthen children’s self-esteem

Here are some useful tips to develop children’s self-esteem and make happy children :

1. Start with yourself

Know that you are your child’s role model . He unconditionally loves you and admires you, and will unconsciously absorb things from your own experiences. For example, if you are someone who gives up quickly, you cannot teach your child to persevere.

If you get frustrated and irritated quickly, then your child will not be able to learn to deal decently with failure. Your child is smart and absorbs much more than you think . So try to work on yourself so that your child has a positive role model.

2. Show interest in your child

Every child needs recognition and words of praise to develop self-confidence . Ask him how his day was, or what he learned in school. On the other hand, even if your child is upset by your questions, he is still noticing that you care about him . Nothing is worse than making a child feel that his parents are not interested in him. Praise your child if he has tried a little, even if the expected result does not come out. It is important not only to praise success, because it can pressure the child to meet expectations.

3. Encourage your child to try new things

Children need external urges, especially when they feel insecure . Encourage your child to try new things, like learning a sport, learning to play a musical instrument, or joining a club . They can also be mundane things, like building a big Lego house or painting. Let your child know that you will always be there, and that they can ask for your help at any time. If your child has doubts, offer support and make sure they don’t feel alone.

4. Be careful with criticism, they affect children’s self-esteem

When a child is doing something wrong and it can occasionally lead to irritation to their parents. However, it is important never to express direct criticism of your child’s person, but to always encourage their behavior . The child must feel that you still love him, even if he has made a mistake. It often makes sense to combine a criticism with something positive, for example: I love you, but I have to focus, so please don’t interrupt me now.

5. Talk to your child about his feelings

A child must learn that emotions can be influenced and changed. Talk to your child about how he feels when he realizes that you are busy or sad. Your child must realize that negative emotions can happen, not only in the future, but also in the moment. For example, you can encourage the child to think of something beautiful or to recall a situation in which the child had a sense of accomplishment.

6. Be consistent with your rules

Young children cry if they don’t get what they want. However, you have to teach them that their toys do not have to be on the table, because they alone do not know what is right and what is wrong . However, if the toy on the table is allowed one day and prohibited the next, you create insecurity. Children need clear rules that they can use to get their bearings .

Your child learns from what you experience. Structures provide clarity that can help your child navigate. This creates a safe environment in which a child can thrive and understands that certain things or actions provoke criticism. To avoid low self-esteem in children, it is important to stay consistent from the beginning .

7. Give your child emotional warmth

Show your child that you love him and accept him for who he is, and not just by hugging him or making loving gestures. In addition to physical warmth, words can also be a balm for the soul . So give your child the feeling of being loved and wanted, even when it is a bad day.

8. Avoid comparing your child with other children

Sometimes we can fall into jealousy, especially when there are siblings in the family. But don’t go after them by making one of your kids realize how great their brother or sister is. Also, the comparison with neighboring children or classmates is not exactly helpful . No child likes to hear that another child can do better than himself, instead, teach him to be unique and emphasize what his talents are.

9. Be honest with your child

Everyone makes mistakes and pain and sadness are part of life . Your child has to learn this too and sooner or later he will experience it first hand. It is important that your child understands that he is not alone and that everyone is going to go through it. So, talk openly with him about his problems and explain that the worries and pain go away with time. Only in this way can children develop healthy self-confidence .

10. Offering solutions fosters children’s self-esteem

Offer solutions to your child’s concerns. For example, when your child opens up, telling you that he is being bullied at school. Calm your child by promising to find a solution and working to eliminate the problem . For example, talking to the other child’s parents or the teacher can help resolve a conflict. You can also offer to let your child seek the help of a therapist if he feels that he cannot find a solution on his own.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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