In order to build self-confidence, children must not only experience success, but also have more opportunities to succeed. Failures (which are really ‘setbacks’) should be small and should teach the child something useful. Above all, children must not be protected from such ‘failures’, or from finding out the consequences for themselves, as parents are apt to do. Otherwise, the first time youngsters experience a major setback they will not be able to deal with it. It’s the little ‘failures’ and frustrations of life, the very things parents themselves have experienced in their own development yet wish to prevent for their children, that build personal confidence, resilience, security, a feeling of competence and self-reliance. When they are denied their share of ‘failures’ or opportunities to act on their own because of being over-protected, children become anxious, incapable and dependent. They also tend to be early under-achievers, lacking that basic belief in their abilities which is necessary for successful development.
Importantly, the routine interactions and expectations within the family underpin self-confidence in children. How often do you openly and readily recognise your child for being successful? Compare that to how often you notice your child when he is doing something wrong. How often do you praise her? Hug and embrace her? Challenge him? Tell him how much he means to you?
Even the worst-behaved children are successful and positive most of the time.
It is a constant attention to negativity, an unrealistic desire for perfection, a distrust of tour children a desire for them to live out our dreams in exactly the way we wish, as well as a failure to give children the necessary room for their own growth, which strangle any form of positive behaviour and keep us disappointed in them as people.
To compensate for that, an increasing proportion of the younger generation is always attempting to imitate a celebrity whom they idolise. In many ways this is an attempt to disguise the lack of confidence in themselves by trying to portray a new look or face to other people. They pretend to be someone else, especially for the benefit of the significant others, like their friends, from whom they are striving to gain approval or recognition. Imitating a star is fine, but not at the expense of one’s own body or health. Some people might take it to the extreme where they develop an eating disorder, like anorexia, in an attempt to alter their physical appearance to resemble someone they admire. This is very likely to damage their body, self esteem and spirit. However, the most common influence on the individual is the effect of the environment where she/he grew up and the conditions of family life.
The Destructiveness of Divorce for Children
For example, the majority of divorces will not have a happy ending. All the frustration and anger that have accumulated as a result of the conflict in the parents’ relationship are likely to be placed on the child, who becomes sensitive to such negativity, especially if he/she is between the ages of five and ten. That’s when he is likely to blame himself for what happens between his parents. Yet, it is in these crucial years that a child requires security and support to maintain a healthy emotional development. In a situation where the parents are dealing with the upheaval of a divorce and need to appear blameless, each parent is likely to push that child towards taking his/her side, which becomes emotionally divisive and plays a huge part in destroying the child’s esteem, trust and self-belief, just at the time when he/she is really hurting because of the break-up and needs them most. A traumatic or insecure childhood inevitably affects our ability to form successful relationships as adults.
It is thus not so difficult to see the important role self-confidence and esteem have in our development, which makes it imperative for children to be rewarded, praised and reinforced as valued people.
It is just that we tend to focus on their negative aspects and become unusually alert to what we do not like, often forgetting to reinforce what we do enjoy about them. From these early beginnings, confidence and esteem eternally revolve in a subtle reinforcement of self-worth, each aspect quietly influencing, yet being dominated by, the other. Building personal esteem is thus the first step towards true contentment and a more rewarding life. High self-esteem increases your confidence which helps you gradually to learn to appreciate and respect yourself. In turn that helps you to respect others, to improve your interactions, relationships, achievements and your own happiness.
On the other hand, low self-esteem causes fear and insecurity. Other people’s desires are likely to take preference over your own and the harsh voice of disapproval being cultivated inside you will cause you to stumble at every hurdle. Eventually, any kind of challenge appears impossible. Truly confident people take full responsibility for their lives. They also encourage others to take responsibility for their own actions and to make decisions for themselves without trying to manipulate or dictate the outcome. True self-esteem values itself. It says, ‘I can do’, ‘I can have’ and ‘I can make my life what I desire it to be’. Low self-esteem simply says, ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I can’t’.