Self Esteem: 6 important ways for parents to raise it in their children
Written by: Malak Tariq
Parents play an important role in every sphere of their child’s life. It is parents who bring a new life into the world and nurture it. Parenting is a challenging pursuit. Children have impressionable and delicate minds. A recent study revealed that by the age of 12, a child’s core personality is formed based on the experiences they have had since birth. Love, attention, support and friendship are the fundamental gifts that parents can imbibe and give to their children.
One of the biggest struggles that humans go through is the perception of self-image.
It is self-esteem that determines how we see ourselves in life. If we were raised with inherent confidence or an environment to thrive, we project that energy. But if we were raised in enclosed or rough spaces, our thoughts are not always cheerful about ourselves. Nowadays, we talk about re-parenting. Even in any phase of our life, this word is used to start afresh. Just like a parent would do, it is about nurturing, guiding and changing the parts of our life that hurt our self-esteem, by imbibing a new worldview.
In order to do the fundamental task themselves and not leave their children in a future pool of insecurities stemming especially in the digital age where everything comes with a filter of perfect, parents have to have conversations that matter.
Even if parents never tell their children what to do, and what not to do; children learn how to do things from their parents. They watch and imbibe.
Here are 6 things that parents can work on to boost the self-esteem of their children:
1. Shift from ownership to companionship
Parents bring children into the world and it is one of the most fundamental and purest of bonds. But if parents believe they own their children at all times, it can hinder the growth of children. Parents can change their commands into companionship. They should realize that a child has his or her own personality and they have to tap into it and nurture it rather than confining the child into a mould of a set manual. Parents should become companions for their children.
2. Comparison is indeed a killer of joy.
Comparison has been a bane in the world of self-esteem. Healthy comparison to holistically do better in life is a boon but constant comparison at all times hinders self-esteem and growth. This world is not an even playing field. At any given time, there will be someone who can do a thing or has a thing either in better forms than us or not at all. Parents should practice and teach their children gratitude. If parents compare their children with others in terms of grades, looks and habits, then children will grow up with a broken personality and they will keep looking for validation all their lives and then even accept any form of it to please people. Parents should compliment their children for little things. They should appreciate even a tiny yet significant gesture of their children and listen with all their heart when their child is speaking. This is how we teach our children how to treat others and how to be treated, early on.
3. Confining children in a box is a big NO.
If parents put a label on their children like "introvert", "shy", "vindictive" or "worthless", children will wrap themselves around these terms and think that it is their primary identity rather than behaviour. Not all children are wired in the same way. If a child takes time to open up, parents should make them feel comfortable instead of labelling the child as anti-social or indifferent. These things go a long way in life. Children are always soaking in everything around them like a sponge.
4. Guard the respect of children.
Children are not little munchkins without any sense of the world. Their brain and personality are constantly developing each moment. Parents should validate their child’s opinions and hype them up when they need support. Even when children do something wrong, parents should be sensible critics in seclusion instead of criticizing their child in public in a gathering or among close-knit circles. When parents focus on building their child’s inherent personality and value the presence of their children, it shows what self-respect means. Children learn to value their self-esteem and acknowledge the way their parents protect it in true form.
5. No means No
We live in a world which serves us hustle culture. There is constant competition and rejection is seen as an anomaly. We need to teach our children that life will not always be a “yes man”. There are times when they might lose in work, play and love. But they can always respect the fact that what is meant for them will reach them as they keep going. The importance of their own consent along with someone else’s will lead children to not take every rejection and failure at heart. In this way, children with self-esteem sense when they are being tolerated instead of being celebrated in a place.
6. Make children independent.
Parents have a strong air of possessiveness when it comes to children. It is like tending a bud in the garden as it grows. But when it is time to bloom, that comes naturally. If we take this analogy further, no two flowers depend on each other to grow. Buds bloom as per their path and a sunflower does not imitate a rose. Similarly, what works best for one person or household in a particular situation, might not work for you and your children. Even the perception of parents after a point should be less rigid when it comes to children. Yes till they were 9, even then parents decided what children would wear and watch, but there are times when children should be taught how to think independently. From their foundation years, parents should teach children and give them space to see how they like to dress up, how they want to go about their timetable, and what opinion they have on a book or a toy before buying. Conversations should be encouraged. If parents disagree with the choice, they can share their perspectives and educate the child to make informed decisions later. But the goal is to give independence to children to think and decide in the first place. This raises confidence in children and their self-esteem is healthy regulation. If children do not get this environment at home, they will either take ages to decide even for the most mundane task or they will keep copying others, second-guessing their inner voice and carrying on with the pattern of dependence.
When parents work on these points, they will see a change in themselves too. Learning to respect ourselves and our family in a true sense is a beautiful way to live a life of self-esteem. As Joan Didion once said, "Self-respect stems from a purpose in life and can do without a reputation." It is more about imbibing qualities within that help us grow to find meaning instead of worrying about a reputation we have created to please people.
Self-esteem works within and does not adorn the outer glory alone. It is one valuable part of human existence that makes life worthwhile in the real sense.