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Parenting: How to Improve Self Esteem In Children

Updated on September 19, 2016

Early Childhood Development of Self Esteem

The following is a framework for hope in the issue of low self esteem and is not inclusive of all the information, all of the answers, or all of the possibilities for growing healthy self esteem.

Achieving confidence and self esteem begins in the womb with a healthy pregnancy, with genetic factors, the treatment of the pregnant mom by her spouse or partner, and by family, friends, coworkers. Proper prenatal care provided the to the mother must also be effective.

(References: Psychiatrist Barbara Houk, MD/Houk Insitute,1990 - 2006, St. Louis Missouri; National Self Esteem Organization, 2006; APA, 2006, 2012).

Abusive or otherwise dysfunctional persons and/or those with SMDs (Severe Mental Disorders) in the other's life can adversely affect the fetus with consistently inappropriate interactions with the mother, or with interference in the proper healthcare of the mother and fetus. This all can result in low birth weight and other conditions that can produce lower self confidence and self esteem scores in psychometric testing during the individual's life span (Houk, 2006).

Post partum, the newborn must bond with the mother fully and in the most positive ways during the first three months of life in order to become psychologically stable and physically healthy. Abusers and those with SMDs that interfere with this bond establishment through 90 days post partum are likely to adversely affect the infant as much or more-so than malnutrition and, of course, child abuse/neglect itself.

This is because the central nervous system is still developing and making connections, and the interference by inappropriate behaviors directed toward mother and child can interrupt this process with the results being untreatable, neurologically-based personality disorders and SMDs in the child.

Please note that Third World nations seclude the mother and child together for at least the first three months of life (often with positive female and even male helpers), and some industrialized societies use this method of bonding in certain regions (ibid.).

The types of information offered in this article and references can be used to prevent low self esteem. Education, training, and health community support can help toward this end.


Hope For Self Esteem and Mental Health

There is growing awareness of the abuse found among Americans. Even some initially healthy infants may grow up in abusive homes and develop low self esteem and a range of physical and mental conditions as a result.

Fortunately the awareness of bullyism in America and Canada has produced anti-abuse and anti-bully campaigns like Canada's Bully B'ware campaign. While prevention is preferable, treatment can become necessary for children and adults who were maltreated, according to the American Psychological Association (References: APA, 2006 - 2012; Houk,1990-2006).

Treatment may include classes at schools to educate youth and children about abuse and self esteem, awareness classes in the community, Public Health initiatives, support groups, parenting classes, churches, individual and group counseling (especially for Post Traumatic Stress arising from abuse), and even medications, if appropriate. The justice system must sometimes also be involved.

Certainly, temporary lowered self esteem can be a problem for healthy individuals from time to time, for a number of reasons. These include losing a job, divorce, failed business ventures, and similar. These individuals can benefit from some short-term support or treatment, butting spenidng times with friends during a time of adjustment is often great therapy all by itself. If children can learn to cultivate positive friendships and steer clear of negative people, then their self esteem will likely be stronger for it.

Activities such as hobbies, sports, and/or suitable work can reinforce self esteem and provide tasks that lead to tangible successes. This helps a person feel good about him(her)self. Prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry need to be erased from our society as well - they are destructive. If we can teach children how to stand against these things sucessfully, they will also have greater regard for themselves.



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    • technocrates profile image

      technocrates 8 years ago from USA

      Great everything you said...

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Interesting! The Bible even speaks of such problems going back 4 generations.  I will look for that PBS special. Thanks!

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 10 years ago

      Great Hub Patty!!

      As a Life Skills Coach for 20+ years, 99.99% of my clients are dealing with some form of low or damaged self-esteem that contributes to their seeking my services!! (I do zero advertising, my practice is all referrals!!) I agree that low self-esteem is a chronic problem in the US!! I see sooooo many people taking anti-depressants (I believe in their proper use!!) instead of doing the hard work of building/rebuilding their self-esteems!!

      Also, on PBS recently, there was a Special that might be of interest to you!! It was about how genetics, as far back as 4 generations, contribute to the way people cope with stress!! The scientists found the actual DNA link that influences the base starting point for self-esteem!!

      Thanks, as always, for another great Hub Patty!! Blessings, Earth Angel

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks for the comment, cgull8m. I've learned quite a bit about the brain, indidivual development, self esteem, abuse and related topics, with much more to learn. It is overwhelming!

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 10 years ago from North Carolina

      Good Hub, valid advice if one wants to be successful. Thanks.