As a coach, one of the most common themes I encounter when treating clients is a lack of self-esteem. This typically involves a lack of self-belief and low confidence. Sufferers often have a low opinion of themselves, sometimes even hating themselves, with an opinion that they’ve not good enough, and not worthy of being loved.
The world can be a scary place for someone who lacks the resources to tackle it head-on, and this can also lead to reduced social interaction which impacts both career opportunities and relationships.
Kids aren’t born with a lack of self-esteem. In fact they are unapologetically the centres of their own universe, with an unwavering focus upon what serves their every whim and need. Indeed it’s only when children reach the stage where they begin to socialise that they’re forced to compete for attention and their world is impacted by the wider population.
Left to their own devices they’ll get by, as do we all, but at what cost? They have very few points of reference against which to make sense of what they experience, so resort to copying what they see around them. They are also vulnerable to accepting a version of reality forced upon them by their peers, which may be at their own expense. When this is via bullying, or simply ‘group think’, they lose touch with the ability to make strong self-beneficial choices.
As parents we have a golden opportunity to guide them through this rough terrain. To help them process their experiences in a way that reinforces their value and individuality, enabling them to maintain a firm grip on their own destiny.
The first step is communication. Talk to your kids, and make time to really hear what they say. Don’t ignore subtext, and take note if what they’re saying and how they act is out of step. If your child tells you that everything’s good when they’re clearly not themselves, then find out why.
Making sure your child knows they’re being heard, and that what they have to say is important to you is a huge step towards reinforcing their sense of value. This one simple act prevents so many potential barriers to a healthy and open dialogue, and allows your child the freedom and space to express themselves.
Help them to recognise their strengths, and acknowledge their achievements. Allow them the freedom to make their own decisions (with guidance where appropriate) with the ability to make mistakes without fear of judgement. This is a healthy part of growing up that teaches them resilience and resourcefulness, without attaching an unrealistic expectation of perfection.
Your support creates a safe haven to which they can return. A place where they can look objectively at their experiences and build a strong foundation of confidence and self-reliance. Because it’s from this position of strength that they discover the courage to walk their own path and never have their identity diluted by peer pressure, or scarred by bullying.