Self-Esteem in Children

As parents, we want to raise children with self-esteem as a society. Because our experience shows us that one’s self-esteem is a critical part of mental health. A person’s low self-esteem and insufficient self-esteem increase the probability of experiencing problems in life. Children with higher self-esteem are prepared for a happier life and tend to have satisfying relationships. Compared to individuals with low self-esteem, they are less likely to experience anxiety and depression.

Psychology literature tells us that children’s self-esteem is based on two basic components: a sense of approval and competence. When the child is loved, supported, and cared for by the adults with whom he or she has primary attachment, he learns and internalizes “acceptance/approval.” On the other hand, they feel “adequate” as they achieve something according to their level of development, are encouraged, and master new skills.

Alright; So what can we do as parents and adults to lay the foundations for children’s feelings of validation and competence?

“Acceptance / Confirmation”

By establishing warm, supportive relationships with their children, parents can support this necessary part of self-esteem. In warm and supportive relationships, parents show interest in their children’s activities, share their feelings, and reflect and make the child aware of the interest they feel towards the child. They create opportunities to spend time with their children. They show their children that they are happy and enjoy their presence. They can talk about emotions in accordance with the child’s developmental characteristics and encourage them to share their positive or negative feelings. For example; A parent who sees that the child is crying and angry about the extra parking time that is out of reach may reply: “I can see that you really want to spend some more time in the park. You would really like to be in the park right now.” Such sentences do not prevent you from setting boundaries. If the parking clock has definitely run out and you need to be home, you do it. But you can still continue to show the child that you understand him. In times of frustration, only being understood often provides great relief over time and builds a sense of confidence. Being understood and accepted together with the negative feeling for the child forms the basis of self-esteem.

That doesn’t mean you have to be super parents and have endless patience. This only means that even in the most intense negative emotional moments, the child “I can understand what you are feeling and I find it very natural to feel that way”. It means “I can understand you feeling this way even though I don’t approve of what you want to do”! Imagine standing in front of him like a mirror and saying to him, “that’s the name of what you’re feeling right now, ahh, that’s a human emotion” actually! This is exactly the feeling of “approval” mentioned… And the good thing is that; Children who have strong self-esteem foundations in this way are more likely to accept others as they are and establish deep and sincere relationships. This further strengthens their self-confidence.

Feeling of Competence:

Children come into the world with curious eyes. They are born curious. They develop new skills as they are exposed to stimuli and interactions. And as they master a stage, they spontaneously try to accomplish the harder and more complex thing. They do this out of a very spontaneous curiosity and desire to succeed. The more they master, the more their self-confidence increases and their self-esteem improves.

It is up to parents and other adults to create the conditions that will nurture this curiosity. Encouraging the child to seek; Adults who show the child their pride in being able to achieve, support the child’s sense of curiosity and competence and help them develop it. However, one should not be overly demanding and create excessive expectations while doing this. It is useful to be at the speed of the child. Many adults know the pride on the face of the child who sees that he has developed, mastered and succeeded. These children are more motivated to relive their sense of pride and to master more and more eagerly seize development opportunities.

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