Children who have healthy self-esteem generally lead happier, more hopeful, productive and fulfilled lives than those who do not. Those with a healthy sense of who they are look to the future with greater confidence and enjoy more satisfying relationships in the present.
The challenge for parents can seem insurmountable. Parents have the opportunity, like no one else, to create an environment where love is unconditional, responsibility is shared, virtues are rewarded and mistakes are forgiven. These are the foundations of a family built for nurturing self-esteem in children.
At its core, self-esteem is the way we view and value ourselves. It's the inner confidence and trust that says, we're important, that others accept and even love us, that we're capable of making a significant contribution to the world, and that we have a purpose in life. We all possess a powerful, innate need to feel a sense of worth to ourselves and to others. It gives us a reason to get up in the morning. It also supplies the courage to take risks, persevere when we fail and pursue meaningful friendships and healthy intimacy with loved ones. Healthy self-esteem is the belief that "I'm loved. I'm accepted. I have value and worth and a place in this world." Healthy self-esteem gives a child confidence, hope and the strength to deal with life's ups and downs.
The child with a good self-image sees a world full of possibilities, not just problems. She/He is willing to try new things because he/she knows that no matter how they turn out, he/she is still a loved and valued person. She is able to give others kindness and respect because she feels no need to make herself look better by putting others down.
He has confidence that he'll be able to use the gifts and talents he has received to build a meaningful and fulfilling life.
The essential ingredient of healthy self-esteem is unconditional love. All children need to know that someone loves and accepts them just as they are—the bad as well as the good, the weaknesses as well as the strengths, the failures as well as the successes. Children need to know that no matter what they do, no matter how smart they are or are not, and no matter what they look like, at least one person in this world will always stand by them, believe in them and love them unconditionally.
In early life, children who feel safe and warm in the warmth of their parents’ arms, develop the belief that they are worthy of love and attention. They learn to love themselves because their parents loved them first.
This self-love and sense of security translates into the courage and confidence they need to try new things, overcome frustration, master challenges and develop satisfying friendships. When they accomplish these things they “feel good” and act happy.
So healthy self-esteem is the result of a dynamic, threefold process:
1) Parents must create a physical, intellectual and emotional environment where their child feels safe and loved unconditionally, with plenty of challenges and opportunities for success.
2) The child must try, fail and succeed on his own.
3) Parents must encourage and praise their efforts and progress, and show love even when they fail.
A good parent is a teacher, coach, mentor and cheerleader to their children. When children are supported and loved unconditionally, it unleashes their potential and empowers them to face whatever life might throw at them.