High self-esteem doesn't necessarily come naturally.
Adults, by the way they act and interact, teach young people to believe in themselves and like themselves. Telling and showing young people that they love and accept them for who they are, what they value, and the people they want to become helps build self-esteem.
It is also important to teach young people the values and actions that will build genuine self-esteem, including caring, giving, treating others with kindness and tolerance, and always doing your best in school and other activities.
Young people who feel good about themselves have positive relationships with parents and peers, increased academic achievement, and a decreased susceptibility to negative peer pressure. Loving yourself is as important as loving other people.
Forty-seven percent of young people surveyed in the Warren County School District report having high self-esteem. Telling and showing young people you accept and value who they are helps them to feel good about themselves.
A young person's self-esteem can be affected by many people and situations. Notice how what you say and do affects the young people around you. Young people's self-esteem increases when they feel loved, respected, and accepted; taken seriously; and listened to. Feeling safe and secure, and able to make choices and do good deeds also boosts self-esteem. The most important key to building other's self-esteem is to let them know they matter and are an important part of society.
Compliment your child and let her or him hear you saying positive things about her or him to someone else.
Take the time to learn about what the young people in the community think and feel about current events. Ask them not only about school and hobbies, but also their opinions on important issues. Let them know you value what they think and how they feel.
I.F. Eastman, M.A., coordinates Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth of Warren County on behalf of Family Services. This article was adapted from Instant Assets, published by Search Institute.