What is self-esteem? Why is it so important? How can parents help in building a healthy self-esteem?
Self-esteem is what each person feels about themselves. The feeling of own value. The valuation we make about ourselves, based on thoughts, feelings, and experiences that we collect throughout our lives. In this way we believe that we are clever or stupid, we feel nice or unfriendly, we like it or not. The thousands of impressions that we are recording, experiences, so gathered can be grouped into a positive feeling towards ourselves or an uncomfortable feeling of not being what we expected.
Self-esteem is not something that comes from birth but is being formed and consolidated from our relationships with others and the image that others project us in those interactions. Then we can conclude: “that self-esteem depends to a great extent on the quality of the relationships that exist between the child and those who play important roles in their life.”
A positive self-esteem is a solid self-respect that is based on two main convictions: I am valuable, and I am worthy of being loved. These statements are, in essence, the primordial needs of every human being since birth, on the one hand to feel loved, accepted and secure with a strong sense of belonging to a social group, family, and on the other hand to develop a strong sense of capacity, to be able to handle itself with efficiency and to offer its contribution to the others.
Why is the subject of self-esteem so important?
Because people who feel good about themselves tend to feel comfortable in life, they can face and resolve with certainty the challenges and responsibilities that arise. On the contrary, low self-esteem is a permanent source of insecurity and personal dissatisfaction. Intimately, they believe they have to change to be good and have difficulty perceiving their abilities. And this personal feeling affects everything. Feeling, thinking and behaviors are intimately related, when we feel good we can act better.
How can parents help in building a healthy self-esteem?
We parents are for our children, from birth and for many years, those almighty gods whom they admire, we are their first mirrors in which they look at themselves, and they begin to know each other through the reflection that we are giving them.
In the workshops for parents, we pause to reflect on concrete actions that help strengthen the family bond and thus promote a healthy self-concept based on some fundamental principles: unconditional love, limit or correct without hurting and increasingly promote their autonomy. A brief explanation below:
Unconditional Love: A child’s self-esteem blossoms with the unconditional love of their parents. Every child will feel better if he is accepted as he is, no matter what his strengths, difficulties, temperament or dexterity. We offer you, unconditional love, when you can perceive that you want it beyond your behaviors. When we make them feel that their mistakes and obstacles are part of their growth and therefore do not obscure the pride and love we feel for them.
Limiting without hurting: we want our children to learn to live in a world that has demands and rules, and know how to adjust to them. But the end does not justify the means; it should not interest us to “behave well” if they do it out of fear of punishment or through threats and cries that corrode their self-esteem. What we want is that, through the acceptance and gradual understanding of the limits, be stronger and own themselves every day. We can develop a way to communicate that takes care of the feelings and orient the behavior. A warm, affectionate and emotional support family climate can be achieved, without forgetting the importance of firmly establishing reasonable limits.
Promoting autonomy: Dreukurs, a reference in matters of upbringing, said: “Do not do for a child anything that he can do for himself.” The reason for his commentary is to make us reflect on the danger of overprotection when educating. Let us not deprive children of opportunities to develop through their own experiences, the belief that they are capable. They need daily experiences where they can put into play and develop skills. Motivate your independence by allowing you to make and solve your problems, without waiting for perfection, valuing your effort and energy.
We can never know with certainty what decisions the child is going about himself or herself, but as parents, the best we can do is to provide a family climate of respect, acceptance, trust and good communication that fosters the development of healthy self-esteem. Parents, we can nourish you with positive experiences, which nourish your inner feeling of courage and ability.