Studies show that high self-esteem is the #1 ingredient essential for developing happiness, fulfillment, rich relationships, and overall success in life. In the life of every child, usually sometime between birth and age 6, something happens to have the child doubt him or herself. Someone says or does something that has the child believe that he or she is flawed, unlovable, not worthy, imperfect.
This initial stressful incident is the first real realization that the child is not perfect and fails to measure up to society’s standards in some important way. The initial upset can be one of two types. The first assault could be an unkind word from a peer or authority figure, a spanking, an insult, an argument, a bullying or name calling episode. It could occur as a direct result of something the child said or did that provoked an attack on his or her sense of worthiness or ability to fit in.
The second type of self-esteem diminishing episode can be as a result of the child misinterpreting someone’s words or actions to mean that the child is flawed, unlovable, or defective in some way. In such a case, no insult or demeaning connotation was intended. The facts were that someone said or did something. The child mistakenly made up that there was something wrong with him or her as a result of what was said or done.
Daily, there are hundreds of opportunities for a child to misinterpret life in a way that tarnishes their self-image over the long term. With this sort of tendency toward faulty interpretation, there are literally thousands of opportunities for the child to attach a meaning to the situation that begins the process of eroding self-esteem.
The process of diminished self-esteem does not stop at such an initial decision regarding the child’s value. The child, armed with the belief that she is not good enough, now scans for additional situations that may serve as more evidence to reinforce this initial thought of being flawed. During such potentially upsetting events, the child reinforces this idea of unworthiness by further interpreting life events to prove the fact that she is defective. After years of accumulating such evidence, their self-image deteriorates further with every episode. Before long, there is no doubt in the person’s mind that there is something wrong with them. After all, they have created a self-fulfilling prophesy to cement this belief firmly in their self-perception.
Parents can do much to insure that children grow up with the high self esteem that will support their happiness, relationships, fulfillment, and success.
Here are 10 specific ways to support their self-esteem development.
1. Look with the child to identify what may be missing that if put into place would allow him or her to be more effective, rather than looking for what’s wrong with them.
2. Assist each child to identify and pursue special hobbies, interests, and passions that empower their lives and develop their unique gifts.