In last week’s post, we shared some tips and ideas to help identify that negative self-talk is something that some children engage in regularly. This can be an indicator of low self-esteem, but there are ways where we as parents can support our child in shifting from negative to positive self-talk.
This week, we are going to take a look at another sign of low self-esteem in children by observing their interactions with others. This can be a tricky one, because children go through all kinds of phases; sometimes they’re more outgoing, other times they may be more on the shy and reserved side. Shy kids should not be mistaken to have low self-esteem. Some children prefer to observe and take in their new surroundings before jumping right in, which is perfectly fine. There are however, some behaviors that children demonstrate when they’re around others that might point towards low self-esteem. Here are some of them:
- Going along with what peer say/do, without sharing his/her own thoughts or ideas
Children want to fit in within their social circle, which is normal and expected. Concern should be raised when children agree to pretty much everything their friends want to do without questioning it or offering their own ideas. Over time, the child begins to seek approval from the peer group before looking within him/her self first and making decisions that others approve of. As a parent, we can encourage our kids to think for themselves by involving them in decision-making as part of the family. Simple things, like, suggesting an idea for dinner or what to do on the weekend, etc. etc. Supporting them and guiding them through the pros and cons of the choices they make. The idea here is to foster independent thinking and decision making that can transfer over into a child’s circle beyond the family.
- Blaming and criticizing behaviors
Some children believe that there’s something wrong with them if they have made a mistake or a poor choice, so it just feels better to place the blame on someone else for what has happened. Putting others down or finding flaws in what other children do may also be another way that children with low self-esteem shift attention away from themselves and onto others. It’s not always easy to see our limitations and admit our short-comings, but when we teach our children that it’s OK to make mistakes, and that bumps in the road are a natural part of life, they learn to see themselves and others with a greater level of compassion.
- Playing the Comparison Game
We all compare ourselves to others at some point, and children are no exception. Comparing skills, clothing, toys or even grades; children can always find something to compare with others. Most of the time a child wants a toy or something else because his/her friend has it. There’s nothing wrong with children noticing what others have and perhaps even wanting to have the same thing too. The problem is when they feel inferior for not having what someone else has, and they don’t feel as though they are good just as they are. Creating a culture of appreciation at home is a great way to help a child recognize all that they are already blessed to have. Reminding a child of how unique each person is can be another wonderful way to instill the idea that we all cannot have, be and do the same things as everyone else, because we are all different, and different is good.
Learning how to FEEL GOOD around peers is very important for children, since their peer group becomes center of their life as they grow older. When children feel good about themselves, they’ll feel good around others, and their relationship with their friends strengthens in a positive ways. Inculcating self assurance and self love will teach our children to take pride in their own achievements, be happy with what they are and have and in turn spread joy around them too.