How Does Family Influence Children’s Self-esteem?

March 17, 2018

Children’s self-esteem is greatly affected by the way they interact with their parents and other family members. If they don’t develop healthy self-esteem from an early age, they can become insecure, undecided and incapable of reaching their goals in the future.

The family is the first nucleus that everyone is exposed to. Therefore, it has an important role in the development of a child’s abilities and perception.

In this article we’ll analyze how family influences children’s self-esteem, which refers to the image we have of ourselves.

As a concept, self-esteem refers to someone’s assessment of themselves. Self-esteem depends on several aspects, among which are self-evaluation and the feedback we receive from others.

In the latter, the family is of utmost importance. This is where a child receives their first feedback about their qualities and actions (at least until school starts). The feedback they receive will have a heavy influence on their self-esteem.

That’s why family can either encourage or damage children’s self-esteem. Even small gestures or comments that go unnoticed can have an influence on their self-esteem.

Factors that influence children’s self-esteem

There are certain aspects that we can consider as pillars of self-esteem: physical appearance, behavior, and academic and athletic performance. Parents should be very careful when going over these issues with their children.

Here are some healthy practices:

  • avoid comparisons with other children
  • explain that appearance isn’t the most important thing that a person has to offer
  • teach them the benefits of good behavior

Positive practices that promote a child’s self-esteem

Here are some tips that every family should have in mind to help encourage the healthy development of our little ones’ self-esteem:

  • Transmit trust and affection

A child who feels loved and valued will reflect it in their self-esteem. It is important for you to express your confidence in what they can achieve.

If you’re preventing them from carrying out an activity because “they won’t be able to do it,” then you’ll be limiting their confidence.

You should also transmit the value of effort. In other words, teach them that with effort and dedication, all of their goals can be achieved.

This should be done in the short term to maintain their enthusiasm. In the long term it will teach them the importance of perseverance.

How Does Family Influence Children's Self-esteem?

  • Let them try and fail if necessary

Children who don’t do anything on their own will end up having self-esteem problems. As we previously mentioned, if we don’t let them try, even when they’re wrong, it implies that we don’t trust them.

So, how will the child assess their qualities and abilities if throughout their childhood they’ve been unable to achieve things on their own? This is a clear example of how small daily actions have a consequence on their future.

  • Encourage dedication

You should motivate them to improve without pressuring them to win or stand out. This applies to all areas.

A child that learns the value of dedication will have a great tool for the rest of their life.

  • Value their opinion and let them participate

If you never listen to your child or consult them when making decisions, this can have negative effects on their self-esteem. Ask them how they feel, what they think and what they’d like to do every time you have to make a decision.

They should also be able to choose which sport to practice and what extracurricular class to take. If they aren’t allowed to make these decisions, the child won’t have a positive image of themselves because they’ll feel like their opinion doesn’t matter.

 “Don’t say ‘I can’t’ not even as a joke because the subconscious has no sense of humor, it will take you seriously and remind you of it every time you try”
Facundo Cabral

Things that should be avoided in order to promote good self-esteem

Since we’ve already talked about things that we should do, it’s also worth mentioning common mistakes that can affect a child’s self-esteem negatively. Here are a few examples:

  • Overprotection: This kind of parenting reflects the parent’s insecurities. It can have consequences such as shyness, dependence, introversion, insecurity and lack of self-confidence.
  • Minimize achievements: Value the goals they’ve achieved. Don’t say that something is “very easy” when they cannot do it. You’ll be attacking their self-esteem on two fronts.
  • Solve all of their problems: If you do this, you won’t allow them to develop the ability to overcome challenges on their own. This might even result in them feeling incapable of overcoming obstacles that get in their way.
How Does Family Influence Children's Self-esteem?

Finally, we should make it clear that “determinism” doesn’t exist. While all the above is essential towards the formation of a child’s self-esteem, there are also ways to reverse the consequences by promoting the value of their virtues.

Of course, if this process begins in their childhood, it will have better results.