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Improving Self Esteem: How To Build Self Confidence In Children6 min read

This article was originally published by Nicholeen Peck on Teaching Self-Government.

A Mother’s Question About Building Self-Esteem In Children

“Emma said to me at bedtime that she thinks that she’s ugly. I’m not exactly sure where she heard this since I’m always telling her how cute she is, but what would you say to your kids if they said that?”

Nicholeen’s Answer:

I am wondering if she has heard lots of talk about beauty from friends at school. Maybe some friends always talk about how pretty certain class mates are, and she is never mentioned or something like that.

Usually issues like this appear to be self-worth problems, but are usually social issues. A girl who is surrounded by talk about beauty can assume she isn’t pretty even if no one says anything mean.

Many people are groomed these days to base their worth off of feed back from others. If a person gets in the habit of that they will always end up needing low self esteem help. An important skill to know is how to improve your self esteem. This skill is essential for proper self-government. We really do have control over our own self confidence.

A Mother Building Self-Confidence

“Hmm…I just tried to tell her why I thought she was so beautiful. It seemed to work for a few minutes, but then she just said that she still thought she wasn’t pretty.”

Ways To Build Self-Esteem

Raising self-esteem can often take a while. People usually look for some proof of their worth, which can take time. It’s good you reinforced her, but she probably wants someone outside the family to reinforce her since that is where the negative feelings are coming from. That is the nature of the social beast. Many families struggle with children who have self-esteem issues because of social interactions and experiences outside their control. This puts the parents on the defensive side of raising the child. It is not the ideal, but is how it is for most families.

If social grooming distracts too much from your child understanding their divine worth, then you might want to adjust the child’s social life. Homeschooling or decreasing time with friends is always an option for families who want a safer social education for their children. The largest amount of social training should come from the family relationships at home.

It might be a good idea to discuss the topic more deliberately and to use some examples from other lives. (stories etc.) Maybe your life’s stories. These stories will inspire conversation which will lead to self-awareness and confidence.

Boosting self-esteem isn’t as hard as you might think. A kind comment from your hubby will be a good confidence builder to validate your daughter too. She may already want to please boys. It is a normal girl thing to feel. Bring the issue to his attention and ask him to give her compliments and talk about her virtues in front of other people. People know something is true when they hear someone share the statement with a third party.

Mother Said:

“Thank you. I am going to keep improving self-confidence at my house. However, is it possible that she could just want attention?”

Nicholeen Said:

She definitely could be attention seeking. Being negative about appearance is a really normal way to attention-seek.

Paije did this one time. She had spent a lot of time with a few friends who are always primping and talking about fashion and boys. When she came home she was really wanting to feel valuable so she started talking bad about herself. Paije said things like, “My fingers are so chubby and fat. I don’t have very nice clothes. How come boys don’t ever like me?”

When she started talking this way, I immediately put myself in her shoes and understood that she was questioning her worth because of the perceived worth of her friends. It’s important for children to know that these feelings are only perceptions and not truths.

Also, there is no harm in validating when they ask for it. If a child asks you if you think they are pretty, then validate them. Tell them you do. One calm answer to this kind of question can be all they need at first to know they are perceiving things incorrectly. However, this doesn’t mean a parent should coddle children who repeatedly seek attention in a negative. It is much better to analyze the situation together and deliberately talk about what you see happening.

A deliberate discussion may sound something like, “Emma, the other day you said you thought you looked ugly. When people talk like this it means one of two things. Either the person has some sadness on the inside because they chose to feel bad about how someone treated them, or they are hoping to find out if they are pretty by pretending to be worried about it.

Either way, the people around you will not feel happy when they are with you. It makes people worry about your happiness and think that something could be wrong. Then the people treat you differently and your relationships feel funny. Your friends could even start thinking you aren’t fun to be around if you talked that way with them.

Some people call this manipulating other people’s feelings. You want to be careful not to do this if you are going to keep good friends. If you ever wonder if you look nice or are beautiful, you just come say, “Mom, do you think I look nice today?” I will never lie to you. But, you shouldn’t have to be sad to get me to make you happy. I want to make you happy even when you are already happy. You are one of my best friends in the world and I am here to help you be happy in life…”

Anyway, that is the kind of conversation I would have with her if she seems to continue having an attention seeking problem or low self-esteem with friends. The more direct we are as parents, the less trouble our children have in life, especially in social situations. This is the very reason I have always gone to girls camp etc. I want to make sure my child knows how to handle social situations and is able to look at them maturely. Some people think I am crazy for that one, but it has been wonderful bonding for us and great social training for her life.

Proper socialization is taught. It is not something people just pick up along the way. In old times much of the educational experience was centered around etiquette and chivalry; social graces and relationship building. After all, you could tell a person’s status by how they behaved socially.

Today we can still tell most people’s social status by how they behave. The only difference today is that most families don’t actively teach socialization. They hope children will hit a phase where they are properly socialized and mature. That’s just not how it works. For happy children and successful futures teach proper social skills at home. Don’t rely on schools, or churches to teach your children how to behave or to build their self-esteems. These blessings come from family teaching and relationships.

Hope this helps! Keep improving your self esteem and your daughter’s too! ~ Great Question!

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