Promoting self-esteem in children: Tips to build a strong foundation for life
Building a strong foundation of self-esteem in children is crucial for their overall well-being and future success. Here are some key tips for parents/teachers
It is proven through longitudinal studies in child development that self-esteem is one of the most crucial building blocks that set the stage for an individual’s life and laying the foundation of self-esteem can start as early as infancy when a baby is given positive attention in the form of love, safety and acceptance. Building a strong foundation of self-esteem in children is crucial for their overall well-being and future success hence, it is essential to provide them with an environment that accepts them for who they are, without fostering comparisons with their siblings or peers as when children are accepted as they are, it creates a level playing field for them to accept themselves.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Meghna Yadav, Child Psychologist and Head of Training at KLAY, shared, “Children that grow up with a healthy self-esteem, i.e., the belief of their worthiness, acceptance of oneself, and the self-awareness of what they can do well, tend to do well later in life. It gives them the confidence to try new things, give their work their 100%, the ability to pick themselves up in the face of setbacks (no fear of failing). Parents and teachers play a pivotal role in this process, and the key is to look at each child as a unique individual with unique capabilities and interests.”
According to her, some of the strategies include:
- Listening to and acknowledging the child’s thoughts and feelings and then name it to tame it
- Focus on development of emotional vocabulary is proven to be a great way to enhance self-esteem in children
- Reinforcing through actions that children are loved, loveable, and capable
- Showing by example - children learn to develop a positive self-image when they see their caregivers and teachers demonstrate these qualities.
- Constant positive reinforcement and words of encouragement
- Giving them the freedom to make mistakes - talk about your own life episodes and remember to highlight the “gift of failures” from your journey
- A balanced feedback mechanism - label the habits, not the person (Instead of good boy/girl, discuss “habits are good and bad”)
- Setting realistic expectations and achievable goals
- Enabling them to face and handle unpleasant feelings and disappointment.
Saloni Bhardwaj, Co-Founder and CTO at Lotus Petal Senior Secondary School and Lotus Petal Foundation, advised, “In creating such an environment, it is important to ensure that children feel comfortable with their family's background and the work their parents do. Regardless of their parents' professions, whether they are cleaners, security guards, or domestic help, children should not be made to feel embarrassed. Instead, they should be taught to accept the reality of their own lives and understand the value of hard work and integrity.”
The Human Development Index ranks India 132 out of 191 in their 2021 report. Saloni Bhardwaj suggested, “To promote self-esteem in children, it is crucial to provide them with opportunities to be themselves and express themselves openly. This can be achieved through activities that promote physical fitness such as theater, art, dance, sports, and physical fitness. Engaging in these activities allows children to develop confidence and a positive body image, which in turn contributes to their self-esteem.”
She added, “Access to loving and nurturing adults plays a vital role in supporting children's self-esteem. These adults should create an encouraging and appreciative environment that values effort over outcomes. Children should be taught that taking risks and making mistakes are natural parts of learning and growth. By being accepting of mistakes and encouraging reflective thinking, children can learn from their experiences and develop a healthy sense of self-esteem. By engaging in activities that promote self-awareness and reflective thinking, children learn to appreciate themselves and their unique qualities.”
Vijay Kumar Agarwal, CEO and Co-Founder at Makoons Play School, concluded, “It is important to cultivate a strong foundation for success throughout a child's lifetime by nurturing the seeds of self-esteem in each child. Enable young minds to blossom with self-assurance, resiliency and a conviction in their boundless potential. Create pathways to self-discovery by working together to create a culture that values each child's individuality and encourage them to follow their dreams. As we release the true potential of every child, we all set out on this transformative journey, opening the door to a future filled with limitless possibilities.”