At what age should a person work on developing self-esteem? The earlier self-esteem is developed in a child the stronger the foundation. Self-esteem is one of the most important values a person can have for themselves. It is about how a person feels about themselves, not how others feel about them. Self-esteem goes to the inner core of a person.
How can we teach children self-esteem? There are several ways to help a child develop self-esteem. A child needs reinforcement within themselves. A child needs to gain confidence and respect for their own opinion. An example scenario may be a child coming to an adult and showing them something they had drawn. The child may ask, "What do you think about this?" The old standard of involvement with your child is to praise their accomplishment.
A new way to help them develop their self-esteem even at a younger age is the boomerang effect. When a child asks for your opinion, send the question back to them with a curve. A few examples of this approach are: How do you feel about it? Do you like it? What were you thinking of when you drew that? Asking the question back to them for their opinion, establishes the value of their opinion. Constant reinforcement is necessary for a healthy self development. It will teach the child to depend on and value their own opinion to help them in future decisions. The hardest part for the parent is not to voice their opinion or approval. There may be times when this can't be avoided.
What if my child insists on my opinion or approval? It is best to let their opinion stand alone most of the time. Sometimes a child is looking for approval and needs reinforcement that they are heading in the direction. In this situation a positive approach would be, "I would like to know how you feel about it first." This still establishes their opinion as a priority. After the child gives their opinion proceed with your praise, a hand shake, hug, or all of the above. This is not meant to discourage parents to praise their children when a goal is reached. This is to encourage the parent to help the child establish their own self approval. The concerns are that if a child is too dependent on other people's approval this leads them to co-dependent behavior in the future. If their self-esteem is not strongly established in your absence this child may look elsewhere for approval instead of within. Can you be sure of what another child or strangers influence in your absence may be?
A good strong root system leads to a strong foundation for growth. It is far more effective to set guidelines and boundaries with children. Let them voice their opinions. If a child goes against the rules placed, enforce the consequences. A child needs to learn responsibilities for their actions. A child needs to have responsibilities towards the home and family. Chores are a good way to provide that. More responsibilities can be added as they grow older. Keep in mind children have homework and it is good to require that responsibility to be fulfilled.
A person's true identity may take years to completely develop. A foundation of moral beliefs, self-esteem, responsibilities, and boundaries are all good valuable personal assets for this development.
Setting goals is another very important way to provide a strong source for self-esteem establishment. Personal goals are good for all people to establish a good foundation of building blocks for self-esteem. When these goals are completed the personal rewards are priceless. Goals can be short term or long term, as long as it is an obtainable goal.
Guidelines for a self-esteem and goal list:
10 people who love you unconditionally. (number one on your list is yourself)
Five physical assets you like about yourself. Examples; I like my green eyes. I like my strong arms.
Five character assets you like about yourself. Examples; I am an honest person. I am a caring person.
Five things I need to work on or change. Examples; to help out more or avoid junk food.
One short-term goal. Examples; work on getting better grades next quarter.
One long-term goal. Examples; finishing what I start.
The self-esteem list should be placed where the person will see it everyday, even if it is not read. Subconscious acknowledgement has value. Children are best guided by example. If you don't have a self-esteem and goal list, you can make that a goal to obtain for yourself today!