Picture Anna. She’s smart, talented, thoughtful, and considerate. She would even be described as beautiful, if we weren’t trying so hard to avoid focusing on her physical traits. We need her to know how smart she is. She is destined to be more than just another pretty face.
But as the day comes to an end, her final thought before sleep is, “I just can’t get anything right.”
KidsHealth.org takes on the tough topic of children’s self-esteem. As patterns of self-esteem start early in our lives, it is vital that those around us keep an eye to those patterns. Changing patterns because increasingly difficult as we get older. Promoting healthy self-esteem with children and youth prepares them to face the challenges of the world instead of crumbling with anxiety and frustration when those challenges inevitably arise.
Anna’s nightly mantra of self-doubt may result in her speaking negatively about herself. She may flee the opportunity to try new things or give up easily. Those of us surrounding Anna or any other child or youth can give the gift of lifting that individual up. We have the opportunity to foster healthy self-esteem and a sense of optimism that may carry Anna confidently into a bright and promising future. Consider these steps:
- Be careful what you say – offer truthful praise for a both a job well done and for the effort made.
- Be a positive role model – nurture your own healthy self-esteem.
- Identify and redirect inaccurate beliefs – champion setting accurate, realistic, and objective standards.
- Be spontaneous and affectionate – praise often and honestly and with love without overdoing it.
- Create a safe and loving environment – feeling safe rather than helpless or without control is healthy.
May is National Teen Self-Esteem Month. Let’s recognize it by each taking the time to surround ourselves with only people who are going to lift us higher. And as we travel through our worlds, crossing paths with the “Annas” who are decidedly less sure of their worth and value, let’s lift others higher. Then when we picture Anna, we can picture a world with a bright and healthy future.
Ifeoma Aduba, AWP Associate Director