We have had an article published in the summer edition of Families Glasgow entitled:  Self Esteem and the Power of Parenting.  You can read it below.

Where does your self-esteem as a parent come from and what do you think affects it?

I imagine most people’s list would include some of the following: criticism, new experiences, emotions, hormones, financial worries, achievements, things going well, conflict, security, friends and family. Psychologists have found that our sense of self begins to develop at around 18 months and is improved by having loving responsive caregivers who show us that we are valued and provide us with lots of positive interactions. Consider this statement from Satir, (1991):

“An infant coming into the world has no past, no experience in handling himself, no scale on which to judge his own worth. He must rely on the experiences he has with the people around him and the messages they give him about his own worth as a person”.

Childhood is the best time to build self-esteem, self-confidence and self-reliance. It is difficult to develop this later in life. The perception of ‘self’ needs to be laid down first as it provides the foundations that will help us to weather the storms ahead. As Terri Apter says: “Build self-esteem with your children, then they will not have to chase it, like many adults do, later in life”.

A healthy self-esteem can help children to increase their self-confidence so that:

  • The negative opinion of others will not crush them
  • They will learn from failure
  • They will respect others
  • They will find it easy to love others and learn how to look after and love themselves

Most parents realise that doing everything for their child is not only exhausting but prevents a child from learning how to do things for themselves. The temptation to be over-protective can stop them learning from their own experience and also hinders skill development.  Ultimately, by taking too much responsibility for your child you prevent them from learning the consequences of their own actions and slows down the process of building self-confidence…the child’s  own sense of self-belief.

It is no surprise then that few parents perform this challenging task and balancing act perfectly all of the time. Remember that trying to be the perfect parent doesn’t help us as parents and doesn’t benefit the child. It is better to be a ‘good-enough’ parent who does the following:

  • Sets boundaries for behaviour
  • Encourages children to make age-appropriate decisions
  • Allows children to learn from the consequences of their actions
  • Accepts and acknowledges their child’s feelings
  • Lets children do things for themselves and supports them to find solutions to problems
  • Recognises that adults, like children, can make mistakes

The next time you’re tempted to beat yourself up following a less than perfect encounter with your child remember that although praise is a powerful tool for parents, non-verbal responses are just as important as words. “The infant needs to be able to discover her capacity to light up the mother’s face…for here is to be found the fundamental basis of self-esteem”.