Scientific Studies have shown that the percentage of low self-esteem in children is on the rise. By itself, deficient self-esteem does not constitute a mental disorder but what most people must become aware of is that this condition increases their vulnerability to other psychiatric disorders. It is estimated that at least 20% of all teenagers will experience depression before they reach adulthood. And, this is not a problem confined to any country or region. Recent surveys indicate that a vast majority of the population, worldwide, is lacking in self-esteem, one way or another.
The foundation of self-esteem is established in childhood and according to child psychologists, the most sensitive and impressionable years for growing up children are between the ages of four and seven. It usually begins when someone who the child looks up to, or depend on upon, says or does something that may leave a child feeling unworthy or rejected. This could be a parent, teacher or a friend. This negative self-image leads to a loss of self-esteem that is not easily detected by others. Self-believe in oneself begins to taper off, and over a period of time, children no longer attach any importance to their own fears, opinions, and ideas. Eventually, it reaches a stage where its impact will leave a lasting impression over a lifetime. Having convinced themselves that their capability is suspect, people usually settle for less than they rightfully deserve. They form inconsequential relationships and end up being self-defeating in life.
By itself, parenting can be very challenging because there is no defined way to becoming a good parent. Not surprisingly, most frustrated parents end up with a profound sense of guilt. At the same time, it is not unusual in families that a preferential treatment is given to those children who most resemble their parents’ often misplaced idea of what an ideal child should be like. They overlook the fact that a child is an individual and not an extension of themselves. Generally, the inability to appreciate that children are likely to be different from one another leads to an unhealthy comparison between siblings. This form of neglect coupled with a child’s failure to cope up in school satisfactorily often becomes the main cause of diminishing self-esteem.
Besides, there are parents whose indifferent attitude towards their own children becomes their undoing. Not only do they fail to reach out to them but they are uncaring and abusive as well. Commenting on such relationships, Ruby Natale, Ph.D., PsyD, professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami Medical School says: “Many people use the same tactics their parents used and a lot of that meant using really harsh discipline”. On the other hand, there are parents who are protective and genuinely concerned about their children. But they set their aims so high and their expectations are so unrealistic that even a minor blemish can upset their child’s self-belief.
Your goal is to help children become decent human beings. There are hundreds of books available on good parenting but there is no evidence to suggest that the problem of low self-esteem has been satisfactorily addressed. Perhaps, counseling remains the only solution. There are home study courses so designed that you can bring all children around to shed the negative feelings they don’t need in their lives. Ultimately, it is about self-improvement and the need to give children an opportunity to feel good about themselves… forever.