Your Child’s Self-esteem

Our concept of self is an important part of our life and it begins very early. At around eighteen months a child can recognize him/herself in a mirror or in pictures. As this concept (and language) develops the child will be able to describe him/herself, first in physical terms (i.e. I’m a girl, I have brown hair, etc.) and later (around eight or nine) more psychological and abstract terms (I like to play, I don’t like to fight). This is when he or she begins to feel distinct as he/she realizes that he/she is an individual.

An important concept that develops along the way is self-esteem. Self-esteem is an evaluation of the positive and negative values a person assigns to him/herself. In other words how much a person ‘likes’ him/herself, this may affect many aspects of his/her life. Up to the age of seven, children are generally satisfied with themselves but at around the age of nine children seem to go through a period of low self-esteem.

As time goes by children’s self-esteem will change from a general judgment to a more specific one. For example they may have low self-esteem in their studies but high self-esteem in their social interaction. A child’s self-esteem can be affected by the reaction of others to them, by their comparisons to others and by the extent to which they fulfill their ideal self.

If a child does have low self-esteem then its important to try to talk to him/her and find out in what aspect he/she feels lacking. Parents may also look into whether the child believes so because someone is doing better than he is, because his/her peers make fun of them or because he/she believes he/she should be better. It is important that the child has realistic expectations of him/herself and that he/she realizes that different people have different strengths and perhaps can be helped to explore his/her own strength. Helping a child develop his/her self esteem appropriately will increase his/her confidence and resilience.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

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