Boost Your Child’s Self-EsteemFebruary 19, 2014
By Amelia Orozco
Today’s equivalent of being ignored is not receiving as many “likes” or “re-tweets” as you may like. Unfortunately for our children, this is paramount in their world. They may feel pressured to conform to being like others, not just in their physical appearance, but also in their online persona.
Recently, I noticed my stepson, who is 12 years old and lives with his mother, using many derogatory terms in his Facebook posts. Graciously, I asked him to stop, to which he complied. This made me think about him and many other children like him, who may behave this way because of their low self-esteem. They are looking for ways to define who they are, to prove how tough they are, or just trying to fit in with the “cool” kids—all attempts to reinforce their self-esteem.
There are certain things that are important to your son or daughter that may seem trivial to you such as a funny video or even what seems to be a childish spat with their friends. One good way to reinforce his or her self-esteem is to listen. I mean, really listen to your child when he or she talks to you. Look directly at your child’s face when he or she is speaking and, if possible, sit down so that you are at the same eye level. This lets your child know he or she is really being heard and that his or her opinion does matter.
When your child feels strong enough to express his or her opinions to you, without the fear of being ridiculed, he or she will willingly share more with you. This is your opportunity to highlight some of his or her special skills or outstanding abilities. You can point out how he or she has such a unique way of looking at things, and how that is something really special. Draw out more conversations from your son or daughter, and you will see there are things he or she may be really good at that you may not have been aware of.
There is almost always a way to turn a seemingly negative situation into a positive learning experience where your son or daughter’s abilities can shine through, raising his or her self-esteem. For example, if your son is complaining because a teammate does not pass the ball during soccer practice, discuss how his frustration can turn into a teaching opportunity. Your son or daughter may be a good coach for a little league team because of their ability to see the big picture when it comes to the game.
Finally, teach your son or daughter to embrace differences, not only of their own, but also of those around them. If your daughter speaks more than one language, encourage her to become fluent. Let her know that because of these differences, she is unique and has much to contribute to society, whether it is face-to-face or online.
Not only will your son or daughter’s self-esteem rise to new levels as he or she learns more about him or herself, but the world will seem much less intimidating as your child is reminded of the important roles he or she plays in it.
Amelia Orozco is the senior editor and writer at the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo and a community and entertainment reporter for TeleGuía Chicago. A mother of three, Amelia also maintains an active role in her community and church by working with youth and promoting education and diversity through her writing and volunteer efforts.