School is in full-swing, but your child may still feel some daily anxiety. One thing you, as a parent, can do to help them? Promote good self-esteem in your child.
While teenagers are infamous for insecurities, Jaclyn Scanlan, LISW-S, a therapist with Kettering Behavioral Medicine Center, says she sees awarenessof self-esteem in children as young as six or seven.
“It does start pretty young where kids will start to see differences in their body shape, ability with sports or other characteristics,” Scanlan says. “They may not be seeing themselves negatively, but they do notice that difference.”
Children who do have low self-esteem tend to withdraw. They may become frustrated more easilyand find it hard to stay motivated. If you’re noticing your child comparing himself or herself to others, Scanlan says that’s the time to start encouraging self-acceptance.
Be a role model. You set an example for your child in everything you do and the way you treat yourself is no different. It’s important not to talk negatively about yourself, but also make sure they see that you’re not perfect. If they see you handle mistakes you’ve made in a positive way, they’ll gain an understanding that, while theymight make mistakes too, they have the resilience to handle any situation.
Review the errors. Just as you help your child with math homework, when something goes wrong, work with them to understand what happened and how they can fix it the next time. Taking a constructive and helpful approach is essentialtohelpingyour child understand their strengths and ways they can improve. However, Scanlan stresses that it’s especially important to give children some independence when it comes to solving problems.
“If they’re struggling in school, encourage the child to reach out to the teacher instead of doing it for them,” Scanlan says. “If they feel empowered to take controlwhen they start to make improvements, it is their true accomplishment.”
Ease the school stress. Whether it’s conversations with peers, participating in sports or navigating homework, schoolpresents manysituations that can be rewarding but also challenging. Scanlan encourages parents to find things their kids are passionate about outside of a school setting if schoolis a stressor for your child so that they have other places where they can feel goodand confident.
Finally, Scanlan cautions parents that keeping your child grounded is also important. “There is false self-esteem we can give kids as well,” Scanlan says. “That bubble is going to pop, and it’s going to be hard when it does. Being real with our kids is one of the best things we can do.”