Usually a parent suspects their child has difficulty with self-esteem and confidence even before it is brought to their attention by a teacher or school counselor. It is important to not only take this seriously but also identify what steps can be taken to increase the child’s self-esteem. The first signs that a child has low self esteem usually appears when the child enters school or pre-school. The child may feel unlovable, helpless, fearful of others and afraid to try new things. Children with low self esteem tend to be very self critical, exhibit low frustration tolerance and speak negatively about themselves. A child’s home where he or she has felt loved, safe and capable is the best place for self doubt to be replaced with positive feelings about him or herself. Some changes can be easily implemented at home to improve a child’s view of him or herself.
For a number of reasons, as a child becomes older, some parents begin to focus on areas that need improvement versus focusing on their child’s strengths. At times, this results in children feeling like they cannot do anything right. Therefore, in an effort to develop awareness, it is suggested that parents keep track of the number of times they criticize their child. If you identify that you are being more critical, discontinue the criticism and make a serious effort to identify and point out your child’s strengths on a daily basis. Due to overwhelming demands, parents can easily become distracted and fail to realize that they are not providing their children enough positive attention. One way to increase positive attention can be by providing your child hugs and encouragement. This approach not only will increase your child’s confidence but also reduce the negative impact of any hurtful interactions your child may be experiencing at school.
A child’s feeling of helplessness can be turned around by a parent working with the child to discover within him/herself the many different ways to solving problems. Spending more time discussing specific problems your child is facing can help your child feel that he/she has the resources within him/herself to problem solve. This approach can be taken with a child even as young as 6 or 7 years of age. As simple as it sounds, just spending more time with your child and actively listening to what they have to say sends a message that they are important and valued, thus improving their self-esteem.
At times, it takes a concerted effort on the parent’s part to discover their child’s strengths. A child with low self esteem needs encouragement and opportunities to try new things that can build their confidence. Parents should note what activities their child seems to enjoy and then research activities that are available for their child. Also challenge your child’s irrational beliefs about themselves. Help your child develop more rational and realistic views of themselves or their abilities. Taking specific concrete steps to increase a child’s self esteem takes time, effort and persistence on the parents’ part. However it is one of the most important responsibilities they have as parents of a child with low self esteem.