Self-esteem is our opinion of ourselves: it represents how we think about our worth. Being confident means being comfortable with how we look and how we feel, and it means feeling good about our abilities and our thoughts. Self-esteem is our perception of our values, particularly in regard to our achievements, our purpose in life and how we relate to others. Ultimately, having healthy self-esteem means being confident in how we look and how we feel, and it means feeling good about ourselves.
Self-esteem is made up of all the experiences and relationships we have had in our lives and that in some instances unfortunately, took away from how we see ourselves and our level of self-esteem. For children and young people, building self-esteem is an ongoing process and starts quite early.
People with a positive self-esteem will generally approach everything thinking they are good enough to deserve support and love. Children and young people with high self-esteem have a positive view of themselves, make friends easily and adapt to new situations. They can play on their own or in groups and be proud of their achievements. They are willing to try new things and admit their mistakes and learn from them. People with healthy self-esteem believe that they are doing the best they can. They accept that life isn’t perfect and are comfortable with who they are. Building resilience, the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress, can help children and adolescents to manage stress and feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.
Someone with low or negative self-esteem instead will generally think that is not good at things, that don’t deserve love or support and that situations will work out badly. Children and young people with low self-esteem can find it very hard to cope with pressures from school, friends and society. The teenage and pre-teen years can be very stressful as young people are expected to achieve good grades and be successful. Consequently, children and young people with low self-esteem are more at risk of developing depression, anxiety, self-harming and other mental health problems as they grow.
Having said that, it is clear that while supporting children’s and young people’s development and learning, it’s crucial to support them in their development of self-esteem and self-confidence. In childcare settings early years practitioners can offer a variety of activities to promote this and to help children build up their self-esteem and self-confidence skills. Supporting these skills can be acquired through a variety of activities such as role-play, group circle time or team running races. Working within a team and group will help children gain more social skills and in time will become more confident. Parents and practitioners should always remember to value and praise children’s work, listen and enforce boundaries in a positive way. In fact, we need to be positive role models encouraging cooperation and tolerance between children/young adults, and it’s vital that we reward and encourage them to focus on what they are good at, making sure we notice when children are trying hard by taking an interest in their efforts and achievements.
All children are different with their own abilities, weaknesses and strengths and it’s important to value each one of them as an individual in order to develop their self-esteem. Practitioners and school’s staff should always be positive with them and use positive language. They should also listen to what children have to say, respecting their interests and respond, showing that they are listening and acknowledging. When children and young adults make mistakes, parents and carers should reassure them it’s ok to make mistakes encouraging them to try gain. It is also important to accept children for who they are focusing on their strengths encouraging their independence by trying for themselves.
When children succeed at something they have tried to achieve then celebrating success will help feel good about themselves and give them a lot more encouragement and support. As well as using verbal praise, parents and practitioners can use nonverbal rewards, such as thumbs up or smiling and nodding. Other ways to praise can be merit marks or stickers for doing really well, and if a child doesn’t achieve the goal we can still give praise for trying and encourage him/her not to give up.
In conclusion, having healthy self-esteem helps children and young adults in many areas of their life. They should have the courage to try new thing and if they believe in themselves and know that good things can happen, they will try their best. When kids learn to do things for themselves and feel proud of what they can do, they feel capable. Getting close to a goal or making progress in a project, will allow them to see how their actions matter.