Teaching Self Esteem
The first and foremost need in teaching self esteem to young people is understanding what it is and why it's so important. Simply put, self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves. It’s not just how successful or smart others say we are, but how confident we are about our own talents and abilities that matters. While that may sound simplistic, understanding that basic concept is paramount in raising a child with healthy self esteem.
To Learn More About Fostering Healthy Self Esteem in Yourself and Your Children, Click Here.
Self-esteem in girls peaks at about age 9, but plummets soon afterward. Why?
- we know that eating disorders and depression are more prevalent in girls,
- 20-40% of girls begin dieting at age 10, and some girls even hide their academic abilities, as they perceive that boys do not like girls who are smarter than they are.
- The Hollywood image of the beautiful but not very smart girl is alive and well in American culture.
- The American Psychological Association issued a report in 2007 indicating that the great stress on sexual appeal in the media, is a major component of the problem.
The way our public middle schools (in the U.S.) are set up only intensifies this problem. In elementary schools each class is a community overseen by one teacher who is almost constantly there for the students for the whole school day.
However in middle school, the students must not only cope with their changing bodies and new-found hormones, they are suddenly and without preparation thrust into the more chaotic, more prison-like environment where there is no one class with one teacher, but a whole array of different classes, and different teachers. And the work load of most middle school teachers keeps them overwhelmed with trying to monitor the paperwork, the discipline, the administration rules, so that they are often unable to catch the individual problems that develop in these important years.
To learn how Dr. Joe Rubino builds self esteem in adults and children, click here.
As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
All adults need to see their role in teaching self esteem to young people. Saying and doing things that helps them build confidence in themselves is very important. Unfortunately many adults sometimes put down young people without even knowing they are.
Some ways parents can help their daughters develop healthy self-esteem:
- Monitor your own comments and stereotype. In spite of outside pressures, the family still has a huge influence on how children develop.
- Dads should be involved. Recent data tell us that girls who grow up with a positive, active dad (or father figure) do better in school, are more independent, and less likely to have abusive boyfriends.
- Parents should always tell their daughters that they can do anything they want when they grow up. This may sound like stating the obvious these days, but there are still some of the old perceptions around that limit girls. Of course, being around positive adult role models regardless of gender is very important too. Encouragement, not limitation, builds self esteem.
- Help them get involved in physical/sports activities. We’re learning that female athletes do better academically and emotionally as well as physically. It doesn't have to be competitive, there are lots of physical activities, both indoor and outdoor that are non-competitive.
- Let daughters help with carpentry tasks and other outdoor work and let sons wash the dishes and help with indoor chores.
The important thing is to always be thinking am I building self confidence or am I destroying it. Words, attitudes, our own agenda and problems, can all affect young minds as they grow. Being a role model of positive, self-confident behavior and showering them with love is the best way of teaching self esteem.
To learn more about fostering healthy self esteem in yourself and your children, click here.
“How to Raise Girls with Healthy Self-Esteem,” by Anita Gurlian, PhD. , NYU Child Study Center.
www.GirlsOnTheRun.org. An international organization for enhancing girls’ self-esteem. They focus on developing self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running.
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