Self-esteem is an indicator of good mental health. It is how we feel about ourselves. Poor self-esteem is nothing to be blamed for, ashamed of, or embarrassed about. Some self-doubt, particularly during adolescence, is normaleven healthy-but poor selfesteem should not be ignored. In some instances, it can be a symptom of a mental health disorder or emotional disturbance.
Parents can play important roles in helping their children feel better about themselves and developing greater confidence. Doing this is important because children with good self-esteem:
- Act independently
- Assume responsibility
- Take pride in their accomplishments
- Tolerate frustration
- Handle peer pressure appropriately
- Attempt new tasks and challenges
- Handle positive and negative emotions
- Offer assistance to others
What else can parents do?
- Be generous with praise. Parents must develop the habit of looking for situations in which children are doing good jobs, displaying talents, or demonstrating positive character traits. Remember to praise children for jobs well done and for effort.
- Teach positive self-statements. It is important for parents to redirect children's inaccurate or negative beliefs about themselves and to teach them how to think in positive ways.
- Avoid criticism that takes the form of ridicule or shame. Blame and negative judgments are at the core of poor self-esteem and can lead to emotional disorders.
- Teach children about decisionmaking and to recognize when they have made good decisions. Let them "own" their problems. If they solve them, they gain confidence in themselves. If you solve them, they'll remain dependent on you. Take the time to answer questions. Help children think of alternative options.
- Show children that you can laugh at yourself. Show them that life doesn't need to be serious all the time and that some teasing is all in fun. Your sense of humor is important for their well-being.
These tips were reproduced from the SAMHSA's National Mental Health Information Center.