Six Strategies to Boost Self-Worth

Children and ‘self-esteem’ is heard regularly in the media, however self-efficacy is the term used in psychology and refers to a person’s belief in his/her own competence. It has nothing to do with being boastful or proud, rather having a healthy view of one’s own characteristics or abilities and what one can offer the world.

Children’s sense of self is still forming, but one good reason for encouraging development of self-efficacy would be to grow children that end up as resilient teens and adults.

We are more aware that by actively building self-efficacy, we can assist our children to develop a barrier against issues such as teenage depression, eating disorders and of course social skills difficulties.

How do we know if our children think poorly of themselves?

Watch for:

• Acting out or disruptive behaviours (Negative attention still acts as a reinforcement for being noticed)

• Internalising behaviours (A child becomes more quiet, contemplative or self-focused than usual)

• Struggling with friendships and social skills

• Always putting themselves down

• Refusal to try new things for fear of failure or looking silly

What can we do to encourage development of self-efficacy?

• Provide many opportunities to discover capabilities by enrolling in sports and activities. (Gentle pressure may sometimes be necessary, for uncertain children)

• Encourage children to make decisions & seek alternatives (Don’t always give them ready-made answers)

• Engage in pre-planning, healthy debate and problem solving discussions at home (This can reduce the stress around tasks)

• Provide kind feedback on how to accept weaknesses or learn from mistakes (rather than lectures)

• Teach the importance of self-praise (Not reliance on parents, teachers or friends to feel good about something they have done)

• Pursue occasions to give to the community (looking outward takes the focus off of the ‘self’)

Is there anything that we could avoid doing or saying?

• Don’t take away natural consequences for poor choices

• Don’t do everything for your child all the time – encourage help around the home

• Don’t re-do their jobs e.g. re-make their bed if it is not ‘perfect’  (let it be better that they did it than it is “perfect” / to your standards)

• Discourage use of ‘victim’ language; I’m so dumb, no-one likes me, it always happens to me.

Develop a family habit of praising the process rather than the end result.

By Collette Smart –