Hanover Hints Issue 5: January Hanover Hints Connecting Schools, Students, and Families Self-esteem is our self-view of ourselves, or how we define who we are. Self-esteem can cover a vast array of areas including how capable, valuable, and important we believe we are, how confidant we actually are, and how loved we feel. As kids grow, self-esteem is not always static, but it generally stays within a certain range—and we want this range to be at the high end of the spectrum! In This Issue: How Adults Can Help Signs of High vs. Low Self Esteem Resources Signs of High Self-Esteem • • • • • • • • A desire to try new things A desire to be around peers Negative statements not directed at the self A generally positive mood An optimistic attitude Persistence on difficult tasks Enjoyment of both group and independent activities An awareness and acceptance of strengths and weaknesses Signs of Low Self-Esteem • • • • • • • • • Avoidance of trying new things Lack of motivation to be around others Negative self-statements A generally negative mood An overly pessimistic attitude Giving up easily and/or quickly Overly critical self-statements A tendency to believe things are permanent Frequent use of extreme words such as “always” and “never” Hanover Hints Issue 5: January How Parents and Caregivers can Help Be a positive self-role model Don’t say things about yourself that you wouldn’t want your child to say about him/herself. Demonstrate persistence and model how to approach a problem from another angle. Avoid negative self-statements like “I’m so bad at…” and replace them with statements like “Hmm…I don’t understand this fully—maybe I could ask X to help me.” Be a positive other-role model Resources Electronic Resources for Adults • wingsforkids.org • kidshealth.org • kidsource.com What you say about and to your child can have a profound effect on kids’ self-esteem. Make sure to praise your child in an honest and accurate way. Avoid untruthful statements in an effort to make your child feel good if it is about something that may not actually happen. For example, if your child studied hard for a test and got a D, avoid saying “Well if you study just as hard next time, I KNOW you’ll get an A!” Instead, say something like “I know you studied really hard for that test, and I’m so proud of your hard work.” Never discount effort, even if the end result isn’t perfect. Good self-esteem is just as much about effort and task completion as it is about final product! Reframe Inaccurate Beliefs Electronic Resources for Kids • kidshealth.org Texts for Kids • • • I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont I’m Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem by Jamie Lee Curtis I Like Being Me: Poems for Children by Judy Lalli Help your kids realize when their statements are overly negative or inaccurate. Do not allow your child to generalize from something small to something big! For example, if a child says, “I’m a terrible reader. I’m the worst student ever,” help him/her to see how one thing does not “catastrophize” into another. Acknowledge your child’s feelings, but reframe the statement into something more accurate and end with a positive spin. For example, to the above statement, a parent could say “I know reading can be really difficult for you, but that doesn’t mean you’re a bad student. Being a good student is about trying your hardest and doing your best, and I know you do both of those things! If you’d like, we can work on reading together.” Communicate positive thoughts Love and affection from parents and caregivers can make a world of difference in terms of self-esteem for all ages. Make sure you tell your children when you’re proud, impressed, excited for them, etc. Tell your children how much you love them, give hugs, leave notes in their lunchboxes—anything that help them to see how much they’re loved and how much their parents appreciate their gifts, talents, and hard work. Don’t overdo it, but don’t hold back when you think it’s truly deserved. Encourage Team Activities Activities that encourage teamwork over competition can have a very positive effect on kids’ self-esteem. Organizations like 4-H, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts foster relationships and attract a wide variety of kids with different backgrounds and experiences. They also encourage kids to try many different and new activities together, which can put kids on even ground in terms of trying something unfamiliar. Other organizations, such as tutoring or mentoring programs, give kids an opportunity to build relationships with others while allowing them to have their time in the spotlight when they get to “do what they’re good at” by teaching others. Create a Predictable, Positive, Safe, and Loving Home Home can and should be a safe bubble for kids. Create an environment that encourages this sense of safety and love. Avoid arguing with others (including your spouse) in front of your child. Encourage your child to open up to you and share their thoughts about their day, life, etc. Open and loving lines of communication mean that if something is bothering your child, s/he will be more likely to tell you about what’s going on at school, with friends, etc.
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