Nurture kids' self-esteem, and you'll never need to "build their self-esteem"

 
 

Parents often ask what they can do to help build their kids self-esteem.

Self-esteem on the one hand is such an important topic, and on the other hand it's really unclear what it is.  What is "self-esteem"?  As compared to- what is confidence?  What is self-image?  Are they the same, different...

 
 

I'd like to suggest a paradigm shift.  Let's re-think "self-esteem." Instead of being something we build into the child, let's recognize it as an innate gift, included within every newborn child.  Consider this: no baby looks in the mirror and thinks negatively of themselves!  In reality, every baby is born "in-love with themselves" wholly as they are.  At some point later on, experiences and feedback from their environment that can send them messages, and over time those negative/doubtful/critical messages chip-away at what was whole.

Let’s re-think “self-esteem.”
Instead of being something we build into the child, 
let’s recognize it as an innate gift, included within every newborn child.   
 
 

So when we think about self-esteem let's think about what our kids are born with, and how they see themselves. 

If they have differences (a stutter, speech- language-challenges, learning disability, communication challenge, physical anomalies) then the question we ask ourselves should be early and often, as they develop into childhood and adolescence:

TIP#1  HOW can WE amplify the ways they identify themselves with thier unique strengths, talents and characteristics

TIP #2 How can we influence the self-reflection they see when they look in the mirror of life; so their points of difference are not the defining or dominant characteristics

 

Certainly their unique completion of being make them no less and no more than anyone else.

If we can help young people grow-up with a sense of who they are, and what makes them unique - then we can raise them with a nuanced sense of self-esteem.  This sort of self-esteem will lead to confidence and positive self-image through school years, teenage years, young adulthood and beyond - and most valuable of all, will lead them to grow-up as responsible citizens of the world with compassionate and understanding for themselves, and others.