Increasing Self-Esteem in Children and Adolescents

Self-esteem is often misunderstood as simply feeling good about yourself. This is not necessarily the case. Self-esteem, according to Webster`s Dictionary, is actually defined as an acceptance and acknowledgement of one`s limitations, as well as recognition of one`s abilities and achievements. As parents, we all want to raise our children to have a good level of self-esteem, but it is not something that we can simply give them. It is about creating a delicate balance between criticism and unearned praise. We want our children to develop a realistic assessment of their actions, achievements and limitations. While it is almost a natural instinct to want to protect our children from adversity, it is not necessarily the way to raise resilient and self-reliant children. Finding strength from adversity is a much better life lesson to teach our children. Adversity helps our children become more confidence in their ability to take on the challenges that life throws at them. As educator, J. Norris once said, “Think of your child standing to your right and the problem she needs to solve is on your left. If you step between her and the problem, you become the problem. She cannot see around you and she cannot see the solution.” So helicopter parents take note: it is important for our children to experience real decisions, real successes and real failures…after all, isn`t that real life!

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, a great read is: The Self-Esteem Trap: Raising Confident and Compassionate Kids in an Age of Self-Importance by Dr. Polly Young-Eisendrath

Dr. Monique Costa El-Hage