Think of all the amazing things a person can do with good self-esteem! They can almost move mountains being confident in what they’re good at. All the more so if it’s a child who has the right level of self-esteem. In the book “nobody” IS “SOMEBODY” by Dr. Sandra C. Birchfield, the story revolves around an introverted boy called “nobody” who discovered his courage and confidence when he joined a Spelling Bee contest and later on went on to become a “SOMEBODY.” Self-esteem equates to self-confidence and self-respect. It’s about being confident in one’s ability and capability and respecting one’s own worth. To produce individuals with the right amount of self-esteem means to start building them up while they’re still young. 

Start them young

Building a child’s self-esteem is more than just saying “Good job!” or “You’re the best.” Although these praise words still qualify in helping a person’s self-esteem, the truth is, there is a lot more effort and hard work that needs to be put in for a child to start feeling confident about themselves. Self-esteem needs to be developed while an individual is still young or at an age that is “teachable.” Meaning that they are open to listening and learning and still flexible when forming thoughts and opinions. 

Another reason they should be taught this characteristic trait at a young age is that it will allow more room for growing and learning. Kids often make mistakes, which is very normal. And while they’re at the stage of learning from their mistakes, it is an excellent time to start building and instilling the trait and value of self-esteem to help them cope and grow from the experience. So, instead of wallowing in self-pity and refusing to move on from a negative experience, they take that experience, learn from it, and apply what they have learned from the mistake so that they won’t repeat it. The building and growing of that trait is not an overnight process but a slow and sure progression as long as the parent or the adult is consistent in their effort.

Of course, it is also important to note that there is a line between having self-esteem and having too much self-esteem. Overconfidence tends to build the feeling of entitlement within a child. Entitlement means that the child expects that life will be made easy for them or that their needs and wants will always come first. This would also lead to being self-absorbed or narcissistic. Or, the effect would be the opposite. Too much self-esteem would leave the child feeling inadequate if they experience failure, making them hold back in the future from trying again.

The Self-Esteem Plan

There are no strict guidelines for coming up with an effective plan on how to build self-esteem in children. It is advisable that planning be done according to each child’s unique personality. There are no strict rules, but there are best practices. Some of these best practices or planning on how to approach building a child’s self-esteem include:

Encouraging children to learn new things

Self-esteem is also about being comfortable with the environment and what the individual is doing. It is natural for a child to be hesitant and a bit fearful when exploring their environment and doing activities for the first time. Of course, it is the same for any adults who are also hesitant and afraid of the unknown. To overcome that hesitancy and fear, the parent or the adult should guide the child when learning a new activity or project. It would be better if the adult should do it first to show the child how it works, how safe it is, and how they could also do it by themselves. Encouraging children to learn new things also means teaching them to diversify. Diversify in the sense that they shouldn’t just limit themselves to what they’re good at but add to their existing skills to feel confident enough that they can do more. Plus, this will also give them a chance, later on, to interact and broaden their circle of friends by mixing with other skilled talented individual. 

Praise, but don’t overpraise

Praising is good since it validates a person’s feeling that they are good at something. Praise words like, “You are the best,” “Good job,” or “Keep up the good work” is enough to put a smile and a warm glow in any person, most especially in a child. But overpraising should be avoided, or it could backfire and leave the child feeling insecure instead. The right amount of praise helps a child think positively about themselves. They recognize the good that they do and would appreciate themselves more. The practice of appreciating oneself and value is an effective tool against any stress later on that they would encounter in their adult life. 

Allow them to make mistakes

“To err is human,” as the saying goes. It is natural for anyone to make mistakes, so it should be essential to make a child understand this. Kids tend to shrink and feel insecure if they commit mistakes, either for fear of retribution or discrimination. Adults should teach and guide the kids that mistakes are natural and are part and parcel of the learning process in life, which is trial and error. It is a way for them to learn and grow. And when a child does something wrong, the parent or the adult should avoid harsh words or harsh criticism and be gentle with their reprimands. Correct them so that they will know what is right from wrong. A child could greatly benefit from this approach so that when the time comes when they’re adults, they can easily forgive themselves and move on from the experience.  

Celebrate their achievement and embrace imperfection

Every child’s achievement should be celebrated to boost that feeling of self-worth and self-love. But that doesn’t mean that a child’s weaknesses or imperfections should be ignored. A child should feel that they are loved no matter who and what they are. That includes a child’s weakness. Accepting one’s weakness acknowledges that there is a limitation to what one can do and that it’s okay not to be perfect. This would set them on the road to becoming realistic adults and not create high expectations of illusions or fantasies that would only pull down their self-esteem if they fail to reach unrealistically high expectations. 

Yes, having good self-esteem can move mountains and even make miracles happen. With proper care, support, and guidance, a child can do wonders with a proper amount of self-esteem at an early age. After all, being happy with one’s own skin is very important. Invest in a child’s future, start building up their self-esteem, and see them grow to become well-rounded individuals someday.

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