Healthy Kids    

Do You Know How To Boost Your Child's Self-Esteem?

Will parents' child-rearing practices affect a child's later self-esteem in school? Recent research studies of school-aged children appear to shed some light on this important question.

Researchers have generally defined self-esteem as the positive or negative evaluations one makes of one's self. Children with high self-esteem in school, for example, see themselves as accomplishing their own personal goals. Those with low self-esteem perceive a discrepancy between who they are and who they would like to be.

Certain patterns of child-rearing practices in the home appear to be important for the development of later self-esteem in school.

The parents of children with high self-esteem in school were found, in general, to have the following characteristics:

1. They listened attentively to what their child had to say.

2. They praised and encouraged independence.

3. They were clear and consistent in establishing rules for their child's behavior.

4. They provided their child with much emotional warmth and affection in the home.

On the other hand, it was found that children who were repeatedly told at home that they were "irresponsible," "stupid," or "immature" were more likely to develop a low opinion of themselves and to underestimate their abilities in school. The parents of children with low self-esteem were also more likely to combine permissiveness at home with intermittent severe punishments for misbehavior.

Of course, it is not easy for parents to always exhibit the positive characteristics that will foster high self-esteem in a child. It requires a great deal of patience, perseverance and self-control. This effort, however, appears to be well worthwhile in promoting a child's psychological well-being.

When children with high self-esteem in school were compared with children with low self-esteem, they were found to be more self-confident, earn better grades, have more friends, and view their relationship with their parents more positively.

The seeds of a child's positive self-esteem apparently are sown in the home during the important preschool years. The key parental attributes that foster positive self-esteem appear to be encouragement of a young child's ideas and sense of independence, combined with a clear and firm pattern of discipline, all of which must be provided within a very warm and loving home environment.