Where Does Self-Esteem Come From?

Self-esteem evolves throughout life, because we develop our self-image through interactions with others and experiences that we go through. Experiences during one’s childhood are fundamental to developing self-esteem in children, weather it is negative or positive self-esteem. Our successes and failures as well as how we are treated by peers, family members, teachers and others are what make up our self-esteem. It is for this reason that developing self-esteem in children in such an important duty of parenthood.

Experiences that will contribute to healthy self-esteem in children include:

  • Recognition of their successes
  • Acknowledgment and acceptance of failures
  • Being listened to
  • Being addressed respectfully

Experiences that will contribute to negative self-esteem in children include:

  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Harsh criticism and being screamed at or told they are useless
  • Being teased or ridiculed, called names and told they are worthless
  • Being taught that failure is not an option; expected to be perfect in everything all the time
  • Being told that a parent wishes they had never had children, that life would be so much easier without them
  • Being ignored or treated like a nuisance
  • Being negatively compared to siblings or peers

Developing self-esteem in children 

Developing self esteem in children is important because children with low self-esteem will get very anxious and frustrated when faced with challenges that they perceive to be hard, as their mindset is that they are not good enough and they cannot do anything right so why bother. Children with low self-esteem will often become withdrawn and depressed, and may even become reclusive.

Children with a healthy self-esteem, on the other hand, know what their strengths and weaknesses are yet still feel good about themselves; they are far happier, love taking on challenges, are able to resist negative pressure more easily, smile more, and are generally more optimistic.  It is important that parents, caregivers, educators and other adults are involved in helping children form accurate and healthy perceptions of themselves. This can be done by showing enjoyment in what your child attempts, encouragement when they fail, and congratulations when they succeed without focusing on one specific area.

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