A child's self-esteem begins to form when he/she is an infant. The parents or caretakers lay the foundation for self-esteem by how they respond to the child. For example, when parents respond to an infant's cries with care and compassion, the infant begins to feel valued and acknowledged in a way that creates a positive sense of identity. As the child grows and develops, the reactions of other adults and peers in his/her environment continue to influence the child's self- perception. Children with the greatest positive self-esteem believe that they are accepted and valued by the adults and peers in their environment. Once positive self-esteem is established, a child has the confidence to take the emotional risks to differentiate him/herself from peers. With a greater sense of independence, a child is able to make choices for his/her own well-being.
Following are some suggestions for developing a positive self-esteem in your child:
Be positive-focus on your child's successes and strengths Praise what he/she does and not who he/she is Reassure your child that you accept and support him or her even when others do not Ask your child his/her opinions about things and listen to his/her solutions Help your child in understanding that he/she will have some disappointments in life. Use this time to strengthen his/her ability to cope, and to reflect on what might have gone wrong Keep the lines of communication open Help your child to establish and to work toward goals Communicating with you child and encouraging your child to confide in you is a key element in working through potential problems. Accepting your child will boost his/her self-esteem and give your child the confidence to value himself/herself.