Self-Esteem in Children (page 2)
Help Your Children Feel Good About Themselves
From the moment our children are born, we influence their education, beliefs, and values, and the way they look at and handle life. We are not, however, the only ones who influence our children. Their friends, the media, and the advertising industry in general send them appealing messages. These sources try to convince them they can have fun, be successful, or have exciting adventures through certain unhealthy behaviors.
As parents, we cannot stop this from happening. We can, however, help our children become strong enough to know how to resist various pressures found in the environment in which they are growing up. We need to teach them to feel good about themselves as individuals and to have high self-esteem. We should teach them how to express themselves about what bothers or pleases them. Teach them to respect the opinions of others and not to let others disrespect them. Teach them techniques to help them say NO when they are offered things that go against their own beliefs and values.
Help Them Express Their Thoughts and Emotions
Just like us, our children experience tension, stress, anguish, sadness, anger, and joy. And just like us, they are relieved when they can talk about their problems with a parent who knows how to listen without criticizing them or ignoring their feelings.
To teach our children to say what they feel, we must get to know them, and we also should learn how to identify their emotions. Often children are not able to recognize their own emotions, such as sadness, anger, or frustration. Their feelings get all mixed up and they can’t sort them out.
When something like this happens, they don’t know how to talk about it and they turn it into a problem. Therefore, they often decide to stay quiet. This is when we can help them recognize and express their feelings successfully. When we notice our child is silent, worried, in a bad mood, and keeping to himself/herself, we ask him/her what’s wrong. Generally, he/she answers, “nothing.” We need to figure out what is behind the word “nothing.” Maybe he/she is afraid, angry, sad, or in pain. Often, when we keep asking what’s wrong, he/she still doesn’t answer. But, if instead of talking you hug him/her and show your affection and support, you will give him/her time to start talking about how he/she feels.
Likewise, we must listen to our children to help them express their emotions. In other words, we should listen without censoring or judging them or minimizing the importance of their problems.
Even though we may perceive something as simple or “foolish,” the same thing can give our children cause for great worry. When we teach our children how to express themselves freely, we affirm their identity and self-esteem, which will help them become emotionally healthy individuals. With these values, they will become sensible human beings who respect others. They will have firm convictions and will know how to make their own decisions.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
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