Children’s self-esteem issues are increasing as society is putting more and more pressure on children and young people to look, act and be a certain way. Social media, bullying, exam pressure and family problems can all impact children’s self-esteem.
Self-esteem is how a child feels about themselves and this can affect they way they interact with others and the world around them. Most children will slip into low self-esteem mode when faced with challenges and changes in life such as illness, moving house, parent’s divorce and bereavement and may need some support to get through.
Symptoms of low self-esteem:
Lack of confidenceFeel alone and isolated
Struggle with new activities and change
Struggle to make and keep friends
Struggle with failure
Inability to be proud of their achievements
Put themselves down often
Compare themselves to others negatively
Tips to build good self-esteem:
Encourage your child to see and appreciate their uniqueness
Show lots of love and encouragement and remind them what makes them special
Model good self-esteem and use positive words when talking about yourself and others
Encourage them to try out new activities and learn new skills
Encourage them to have a go at something and it is ok to fail or not get it right
Make lists of all their achievements and note how hard they worked
Reassure your child that making a mistakes is normal and no-one is perfect
Talk more and ask how they feel, talking about their ideas and what went well each day
Check them when they criticise themselves
Encourage a growth mindset approach and instead of saying ‘I can’t do it’ say ‘I can’t do it yet and I will try my best’
Use affirmations to help build self-esteem
Affirmations are so important to help keep children’s minds healthy. Here is a simple way of explaining affirmations to children.
Just as we eat healthy food to help our bodies grow strong and healthy so we have positive and happy thoughts to help our minds so we can grow up feeling strong and confident inside.
Affirmations are short statements of personal belief that make us feel good about ourselves and our abilities and achievements. It is important that they are said or written in the first person, present tense and are positive.
Top athletes use affirmations to help them achieve their goals and improve their performance. Positive affirmations help us reduce negative self-talk and remind us of who we are, our greatness and what we want to achieve.
The more we repeat happy and positive thoughts, the more happy and positive we feel. The more we think happy and positive thoughts, the more likely we are to say positive words and so it perform positive actions.
Ask your child to stay still for a few moments and as they breath in say one of the following affirmations ‘I am peaceful’ ‘I am confident’ ‘I am bright’ and as they breath out, they repeat ‘I let go of sadness’ ‘I let go of anxiety’ etc. In a short time, their body will be filled with happy hormones as their anxiety reduces and they feel calm and confident.
Once they have mastered this simple technique, they will be able to use it in any upsetting or stressful situation.
Mirror work is a fantastic tool that can help children build their self esteem daily. It is simple to do, although can be hard to start with, children will grow to enjoy it as they begin to accept themselves, see their qualities, strengths and abilities.
Mirror work can also help improve body image and help children feel more positive about themselves. Regular mirror work can help decrease feelings of self hatred as well as destructive thoughts and feelings of self- deprecations, shame, feeling unloved and unworthy and incapable.
To do Mirror Work, children sit comfortably in front of a mirror or hold a mirror up to their face. They look into the mirror, straight into their eyes and talk to themselves positively with positive affirmations. The affirmation is repeated very slowly and with meaning over and over.
Children focus and look deeply into their eyes as they repeat the affirmation. To start with, they may only be able to manage a couple of seconds, but in time, they will be able to do longer. It also helps if adults are doing this as well so modelling good practice.
Ideally start with the following affirmation. ‘I deeply and completely love and accept myself’ Here are some other affirmations that can be repeated. ‘I accept myself just the way I am’ ‘I am OK’ ‘I am special, unique and valuable’ ‘I am deeply and completely loved’ ‘I am safe’ ‘I am a good person’ ‘I am a wonderful person’ In time children will start to make up their own affirmations and enjoy the activity.