As parents, we do our best to raise children who have everything they need to grow into healthy, functional adults. High self-esteem is an essential part of the puzzle, because the way we feel about ourselves shapes how we interact with the world around us.
Read on to learn more about self-esteem, how it affects body image, and what parents can do to encourage children to feel happy in their own skins.
Low Self-Esteem Amplifies the Negative
When young people have low self-esteem with regard to various aspects of their identities, those feelings tend to overflow into other parts of their lives. For example, when a child feels lonely or unsuccessful because they struggle at school or don’t have many friends, those negative feelings can very easily affect the way they feel about their appearance and health as well.
Feeling bad about one thing in life opens the door to feeling bad about other things. Jumping from feeling “dumb” to feeling “unattractive” is easy when the negative feelings already exist. Those negative thoughts just stew inside, and low self-esteem can cause children to fixate on the most minor issue until it feels like a glaring flaw on the child’s part.
How Parents Can Help
Just as negative feelings open the door to sadness, poor body image, and anxiety, positive feelings help children to build strength and confidence in themselves.
If you as a parent want to help your children maintain a healthy body image and high self-esteem, try the following steps.
- Encourage Self-Care: Practicing self-care is a great way to improve one’s self-esteem, so if you can, encourage your children to take part in adequate self-care including healthy diets, exercise, hygiene, and organization at home.
- Focus on the Positives: If your child feels low about a particular aspect of their appearance, encourage them to focus on the parts of themselves they like. For example, if your child doesn’t like the shape of their nose, help them focus on their eyes, hair, or healthy skin.
- “Nobody’s Perfect”: Remind your child that nobody is perfect. Even the most attractive person has some sort of flaw, and the best we can do is work on the things we have the ability to improve upon.
- Teach Acceptance: Making improvements to one’s own appearance can be a great confidence booster, but it’s crucial to accept the body we have to begin with. As human beings, it’s normal to want to enhance ourselves, and while that’s fine, finding peace with what we have is essential for a healthy body image.
There will always be good days and bad days, but keeping an open line of communication and talking through issues with your children will help them become the confident young adults you see in your mind’s eye when you envision their futures.