12 Temmuz 2011

Raising Children with High Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

As parents, we have two tools raising our children, nurturing and setting limits which build the child’s self-respect. Self-esteem and self-worth are the components of self-respect. If a child has confidence in himself and he believes in how valuable he is and what he deserves, then he can also respect himself.

Nurturing and unconditional love supports personality and individuality, while setting limits helps our children socialize with others. Connection is the key to balance those two tools to build healthy self-esteem and self-worth in child development.  
Self-worth is the child’s belief about how he deserves to be treated in life and if he is worthy of being loved and respected. Self-esteem is the child’s belief about how capable, competent and valued he is. Mother-child bond in the first two years of life is very critical to build a healthy self-woth. Children do not have a positive or negative idea about themselves but they form it in time according to the attitudes of their parents.

Let’s give an example. Parents set up rules for the environment, setting reasonable limits to their child about what can be done and what cannot be, they make the environment safe for him. Then the child will feel safe and connected to his parents. The first years are very important to build this confidence, because child will feel that it is a safe and good world to explore. 

Developing confidence is a process from outside to inside. The child will absorb and internalize the feeling and begins to trust himself and he will be able to develop a healthy self-esteem. Toddlers begin to explore the world with this feeling, they still need frequent connection with parents through looking at their mother or touching every few minutes and then they can go on exploring. If parents leave the room for more than they expect they feel anxious, they lose their safe environment. As time passes and their experiences grow, they more easily cope with this stress. Step by step, they go up and learn different things, they build more physical and emotional skills and and those successful experiences will lead to a healthy self-esteem.

If parents are only good at meeting the physical needs of their child and setting limits however they neglect the emotional need for connection, the child will have low self-worth creating problems in his relationship with others. He will store negative feelings such as anger and temper. Remember that your connection or lack of connection with your children has a great impact on your child’s self-worth and his ability to relate to others. Self-worth develops in the family; children feel that they deserve what they live through. If they are not listened, they feel they don’t deserve to be listened, if they are punished, they internalize the feeling of being a bad person and they behave accordingly.

Children with low self-worth and high self-esteem most probably be a workoholic when they are grown-up. So that they can replace their missing self-worth. You can watch those people around you. They don’t have time for their family, friends, social interactions. When they feel a thread to their success, they take it as a a thread to their existence and identity because they have identified themselves either with their success and good career or the beautiful wife. They have a tendency to violence. Don’t be surprise when you hear a famous professor beats his wife. That’s because he cannot cope with his low self-worth.

Let’s think the case is just the opposite. The parents have a nurturing relationship with their kids. Mom and dad are both working. They do not have much time and energy to deal with disciplining their child. They cannot set right rules, because they are afraid of losing their child’s love. They do everything for their child. So their child does not need to take any responsibility about the consequences of his choices. This child’s self-worth will be inflated but not healthy. Being a self-centered person, he will have problems with building social relationships. World outside is not a place that all friends work for you and you do not need to do anything. He will have egocentric relationships with his peers and he cannot be empathic towards others.

To increase the self-esteem of their children, parents can do things with their child instead of for their child and praise them with positive words directly related to their positive attitudes. Parents can tell they need help with the house chores and give children responsibility and be patient about the outcome.

Children that do not experience neither enough love and connection nor boundaries for a safe environment will have both low self-esteem and self-worth resulting in problematic life when they become adults. They are usually very unhappy, depressive people. They don’t trust people and also they don’t trust life.

Let’s listen Malini Mandal, ACPI Certified Parenting Coach “Children whose parents make the effort to connect with them in this heartfelt way develop self-confidence and self-love, the prime ingredients for success in all of life’s endeavors. Children whose need for connection is neglected are likely to experience low self-esteem, unhappiness and more difficulty achieving healthy connections in their relationships with others.
Children with healthy self-esteem and self-worth are emotionally strong in life. You see how big our responsibility is and how important we are in our children’s lives.

İlkiz Özcan Sönmez
ACPI Certified Coach for Parents

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