The Protective Power of Self-Esteem in Children

Marie Kessaris, MA, Individual and Family Counselor

Being a parent is stressful; we often wonder if we are doing everything possible to ensure our child is safe, happy, and healthy. However, there is evidence that self-esteem - or the evaluation of one's worth, value, importance, skills, and abilities - can affect children in all aspects of their lives, providing a "buffer” for hardships or obstacles they may experience.

High self-esteem has the effect of making a child more curious, interested in challenges and learning, optimistic about their potential and the future, able to forge and maintain healthier social relationships, more resilient, emotionally stable and able to self-regulate undesirable emotions, and almost negating or "annihilating" (Zambon et al., 2007) any socio-economic deficits a family is experiencing.

So how can we contribute to a healthy and stable self-esteem in our child? According to studies, parents have more influence on the self-esteem of girls than with boys, partly due to the fact that different factors influence self-esteem for boys and girls; where girls were more affected by perceived parental support and participation, boys were more affected by their sense of control and autonomy. However, the major overarching factor which facilitates healthy perceptions of self in all children is an authoritative parenting style. An authoritative parenting style is consistently warm, supportive, clear about boundaries and rules, and fair but also forgiving. A parent who is patient, establishes open lines of communication, and - funny enough - has a sense of humour, tends to encourage the formation of healthy self-esteem in their children.

 

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