Kids develop their sense of selves and the world around them from their parents. So when parents don’t feel good about themselves and have low self-esteem, their kids are likely to feel the same way.
Self-esteem encompasses our personal evaluation of our overall worth. That can be impacted by everything from feelings of pride and triumph to despair and shame. Ultimately, self-esteem impacts how we behave and relate to others.
Much of our self-esteem is influenced during childhood. The more positive early experiences we have, the greater the chance we’ll have positive self-esteem. Studies show that kids with low self-esteem are at higher risk for anxiety, depression and substance abuse, and can struggle academically and socially.
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Just as we teach our kids how to tie their shoes, brush their teeth and to be kind to others, parents also must teach them how to take care of themselves in a way that fosters positive self-esteem. Here are five ways to start.
- Assess your self-estateem. Write down your own self-evaluations, judgments and childhood experiences. Improving your self-esteem is crucial to raising your child’s. Talk to a professional or seek other resources, like self-help books, for learning new and positive ways of seeing yourself.
- Practice acceptance. Having positive self-esteem means not being overly critical with ourselves and our kids. Teach your child self-acceptance and self-compassion by example.
- Recognize that you are two individuals. It’s easy for parents to project their thoughts and wishes onto their kids. Many parents assume that what they think and feel is what their kids think and feel. Failing to recognize that our kids are separate individuals with their own set of ideas and desires can damage self-esteem.
- Be invested in your kids’ lives. Have meaningful conversations with your kids. Ask them questions about themselves and their day-to-day lives. Over time, this helps parents and kids gain a better appreciation of themselves and to develop deeper relationships.
- Talk to a professional. It’s harder to change negative self-evaluations and low self-esteem as we age. The earlier issues are addressed, the better.