building self esteem in children

Top Tips for Building Self-Esteem in Children

It was Hannah’s first day of school as a “big second grader.”  It seemed only yesterday that I was rocking “Nana’s Sweet Hannah,” the name I call my firstborn grandchild, in my arms.  My daughter and I shed a tear as Hannah walked out the door with her book bag hung over her shoulder. Behind my computer screen via way of Facebook, I felt compassion for Mothers who were sending their “teenage babies” off for their first day of school.  They, too, couldn’t believe that Father Time had slipped up on them.

In the preceding month before the school bell rang for another year to begin, Moms all across America went into high gear preparing their children for that first day:  orientation meetings were attended, hours were spent buying new clothes and school supplies, the pantry and refrigerator were stocked with lunches.  At last, Mom and child were ready -  let the school year begin.

May I take this opportunity to ask you a few questions about another much needed preparation that might have slipped your mind in the midst of the hustle and bustle?

Did you prepare your child for:

  • the bully they are sure to meet at school or on the bus
  • the time that they are chosen last for an activity or not chosen at all
  • the time that they are made fun of because of a disability
  • the time that they hear a cruel remark about their appearance
  • the time that they fail a test, despite how hard they studie

It is these type of things that can cause a child’s self-esteem to spiral downward, and they cease to see themselves as someone who is loved, valued, and having worth.  Obviously, parents cannot lock their child in a cage and shelter them from the world around them. However, parents owe it to their children to build a self- confidence in them that cannot be shaken when demeaning acts of unkindness cross their paths.

Allow me to offer a few tips for building Self-Esteem in children.

  1. Instill in Your Child the Way God Sees Them - Start each day with scriptures showing him how special he is to God.   1. God’s love for you is higher than the heavens (Ps. 108:4)    2. God created you with a beautiful body (Ps. 139:13-14)    3. God calls you his Friend  (John 15:15)   4. God chose you  (Eph. 4:1)  5. God created you with special abilities (Romans 12:6)
  2. Point Out Strengths You See in Him - Often time’s children do not recognize their own abilities.  Not only tell them things you have noticed they are good at doing, but write them out and pack one a day in his book bag for him to read during the day.
  3. Teach Him that Losing Does not Make Him a Failure - Children love winning.  However, losing is a normal part of life. When he fails a test, seize the opportunity to help him develop better study habits.  When he loses a ballgame, use it as a time of learning about good sportsmanship, not drowning in defeat.
  4. Encourage Him to Help Others - As adults, we realize that one of the most fulfilling moments of our lives is when we help others.  One of the best ways to promote this idea in children is to encourage him to be a friend to:  the new kid at school, the child that is purposely left out of activities, the child with a disability, going with a child who is being bullied to tell an adult.  Not only does this make the “other child” feel accepted and valued, but it makes your child have a feeling of worth, knowing he has helped someone.
  5. Instill in Him an Attitude of Thankfulness - Set aside a time each day for him to give thanks for:  the way he looks, the abilities he has, how much God loves and values him, and most of all teach him to be thankful for “just being me.

One final tip that I am sure you do not need to be reminded of:

 Send your child off to school everyday with a big hug.

 Have a good school year with your child and enjoy the ride before these precious years have passed you by.

Building Self-Esteem in Children - God's Way

“Good Job, Hannah.” “God Job, Zach.” “You are awesome!” From the moment six-year-old Hannah and two-year old Zach came home from the hospital, their parents have showered them with words of love and admiration such as these.  Hannah beams from ear to ear, gives the thumbs up sign to her parents, while Zach squeals and dances a little jig.

It goes without saying that they are obviously elated with the words of approval their parents give them daily.  I applaud my daughter and son-in-law for the God kind of love they are modeling to my grandchildren.

Soon, Hannah and Zach will be branching out beyond their home environment and embracing the world around them.  Surely these two kids, along with others like them whose parents have planted the seeds of acceptance into their lives, are ready to face the outside world, right?  Unfortunately, the answer to that question could be “no.”

Robert McGee, professional counselor and the author of You and Your Parents, says that parents can do all the right things, and a negative word or a circumstance could come into a child’s life that would block their emotional development.  Along with the blocked emotional development, their self-esteem begins to spiral downward.

What are some of the circumstances that can cause a child to feel badly about himself and lower his self-esteem?

1. Being bullied by another child.

2. A rude remark by a teacher, such as “You’ll never amount to anything.”

3. Making a move to a new place and not making friends right away at a new school.

4. A parent’s divorce, especially if he feels to blame for the divorce.

5. Being made fun of because of a disability.

6. Not making good grades in school.

7. Not approving of his appearance.

Do any of those circumstances sound familiar to you and your own life?  In an earlier post, I recounted my own journey down a muddy road in search of where my self-esteem had plunged to its lowest level by the time I was 40 years of age.  The path led me right back to my childhood, as is often the case.

The question we must ask ourselves is:

  • What can WE do to help build self-esteem in a child's life in the midst of circumstances in his world?  By WE, I mean parents, grandparents, youth leaders, school teachers, or any caring adult who desires to be an instrument in the foundation building of our leaders of tomorrow.

I believe the answer to that is:

Help a child see the magnificence

that is within them

because of the God who created them.

Take a view of God’s magnificent creation:

1. God created you with a beautiful body. [Psalms 139:13-14 TLB]

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit them together in my mother’s womb.  Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  It is amazing to think about.  Your workmanship is marvelous and how well I know it.”

  • Everybody has a different shaped nose, ears, eyes, and teeth.
  • Some people wear glasses.
  • Some people have curly hair, some people are bald.
  • Everyone has a different size body and shape.
  • People have different skin tones.
  • Not everybody looks the same, but the way you are uniquely designed is what makes you beautiful and handsome.

2. God created you with special abilities [Ephesians 4:8-12]

God gives each person special abilities.  Not everyone has the same ability.  Some of those special abilities are:  Dancing, Singing, Acting, Aerobics, Playing Baseball, Jumping Hurdles, Drawing, Painting, Writing, Sewing, and the list goes on.

3. God calls you by special names.  A few of the names God calls you are:

Salt of the Earth  [Matthew 5:13)]       Light of the World [Matthew 5:14]

Bold   [I John 4:17]                                   Friend  [John 15:15]

Strong   [Ephesians 6:10]                       Conqueror  [Romans. 8:37]

4. God loves you.

  • He loves you so much that He has counted every hair on your head!  [Matthew 10:30]
  • He loves you so much that He protects you while you are asleep.  [Psalms 4:8]
  • He loves you so much that He gave his life for you.  [John 3:16]

5. God values you. [Mark 10:13-18]

This passage of scripture tells the story of mothers bringing their children to Jesus to bless them.  Jesus’ disciples shooed the mothers away, telling them not to bother Jesus. But, when Jesus saw what was happening, He was very much displeased with his disciples and said to the disciples, “Don’t send the children away!” Then Jesus took the children into his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.  “Bless” means that Jesus gave the children honor and special value.

Think about it: Do you suppose your own childhood would have been different had you realized your beauty and worth within because of the God who created you?  I know mine would have been.  Does it not give you a desire to pass this knowledge  on to children around you to counter-attack any negative circumstance that may come into his life?

Hillary Clinton once wrote a book entitled:  “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.” I have to agree with that.   Together, we can lay a foundation in children’s lives which will  Build Self-Esteem in Children--God's Way, paving a path for them to become all God created them to be.

Excuse me while I make a phone call to my grandchildren and shout out to them---

“Hannah and Zach,

“You were magnificently created!