How do we improve Self Esteem of Middle School Children? Self esteem is the way we feel and think about ourselves. A healthy level of self esteem is important in life. This applies to everyone whether children or adults. A healthy self esteem can help you achieve your personal goals, do well in school, help you cope with many of life’s challenges and it can also lead to success in many of the things you do. It is therefore important to cultivate healthy level of self esteem and help children develop it too.
Middle school is the most challenging and exigent phase of a kid’s mental development. Just when they start living out a self-help life, Justin Bieber is all over the screens with nice hair and fancy cars divesting them off the very little sense of worth they’ve amassed to face the world. It’s awfully sad seeing a 12 year old desperately avoiding the mirror, shutting themselves in and embracing solitude, but even sadder grasping how little there is you can do to ease them into reality.
We all were kids one time and realize just how hectic life can be in middle school, especially if you are a shrinking violet. This is the stage where children start comparing themselves with colleagues from all sorts of viewpoints: background, performance in school, outside class proficiency and even looks.
Furthermore, kids of middle school ages are at their most insensitive stage. They love cynicism when they are not on the receiving end. And when they do it, they hit hard from a candid and straightforward angle, utterly taking the wraps off their defenseless victim. While the laugh only lasts a few minutes, the shrill feeling of worthlessness lives on to haunt the kid and instill in them an enduring low self-esteem.
Self Esteem Issues in Middle School
A child’s self esteem can be determined by various factors. Conditions at home and how they are treated by family members may contribute to a low or high self esteem. The attitudes and behaviors of parents play a huge role in this. A child’s self esteem in middle school can change for good or for bad. In school, the children are exposed to new challenges which they may not know how to handle yet they are determining factors of self esteem. Some of them include:
At middle school, boys usually start to break their voice and for some, the change may come late. This may cause the late bloomers to be insecure and have a low self esteem.
From middle school onward, girls experience social pressure that focuses mostly on appearance. Some girls may become victims of discrimination based on weight or race. However, there are also other irrelevant things that also become discriminating factors. In most cases, you will find girls trying to lose weight using any means possible, at times even dangerous tactics. Such pressure can make some have a low self esteem.
3. Social Status
Those from low income families may feel uncomfortable around children from rich families. They may be discriminated against due to lack of luxury items or being able to take part in activities that only the rich can afford. Lack of friends and constant ridicule can cause some to develop a low self esteem.
4. Body Image
Children in middle school are at an age where they are aware of their body image. The society has a picture of the perfect body that is usually on the magazines and billboards. A good body image will always attract the opposite sex and if some do not have the ‘perfect’ body, they go unnoticed and may develop a low self esteem.
So how can you help self esteem in middle school children as a parent?
1. Give Praise
Raising an adolescent is not easy. Some parents will focus on the problematic areas of the child instead of the positive. Try to look at the positive side of your child and give commendation for anything good that has been done. This will make the child feel appreciated and feel worthy. Giving commendation where it is not due may lead to pride which is not healthy.
Give credit where it’s due. When a kid realizes you notice their effort, they’ll keep trying out new stuff in a bid to impress you. In the process, they slowly come to terms with things they were previously shy to do.
2. Give Constructive Criticism
Obviously, there are times when your child will make mistakes. How you correct your child will determine whether he will develop a low self esteem or a high self esteem. When a mistake has been done, tell your child why the action was wrong and help him see the right way of doing things. This will make him a better person. Parents who result in verbal abuse and telling the children they are good for nothing or are useless will result in children with low self esteem.
3. Nurture Their Talents
Most parents want the best for their children. At times, parents go overboard by forcing children to live the life they had planned out for them believing it is the only way to success. Children are different and some may not be good at what you plan for them. All children have talents. Try nurturing your child’s talent and this will help him see his decision is respected and it also gives him a sense of self worth seeing he can be good at something.
4. Ask for Their Opinion
Parents are the head of the household and most decisions are made by them. However, you can also ask your children to contribute to some of the decision making in the household and go by their opinion if it sounds reasonable.
As a fundamental element in building your child’s self-esteem, set clear rules and boundaries and expect them to abide by them. Such rules communicate to your kids that you value them, and when a teenager notices this, they feel worthy and start facing life more boldly.
6. Encourage independent thinking
Occasionally invite your kids into the adult life they so much relish. This way, you will be introducing them to decision making. And as you approve their little opinions, they become more assertive and ready to stand for their views in front of colleagues and even teachers.
7. Be supportive during a conflict
A conflict between kids may seem trivial to you but it’s the point where you could make or break your child’s self-esteem. One way self-confidence grows in middle school children is when they know they have a parent they can lean on when the whole world is against them.
8. Criticize sensitively
Kids can really get on our nerves sometimes, but no mistake merits being shouted at angrily. Choose the right angles to criticize them from. Make it more like a dialogue than a lecture, and in a way, instill them with some embarrassment to discourage a repeat of the mistake.
Is the self-esteem movement dying out?
The self-esteem movement, which started back in the early 70’s, looks to be already going obsolete, if not irrelevant. The idea with the movement was that law esteem was the biggest setback to individual progress among adults, and was thus the biggest culprit behind societal problems and dysfunctions. One of its pioneers, famous psychologist Nathaniel Branden once said, “I cannot think of one psychological issue – from depression and anxiety, to fear of success or of intimacy, to child molestation or spouse battery – that cannot be traced back to the issue of low self-esteem.
Rather than soothing and guiding those suffering low self-esteems, the movement preferred going about the issue preventively. It was all about doing away with avertible practices that are bound to kill self-regard: swapping performance trophies for attendance certificates and competitive sports for friendly matches.
It helped many, no questions, but then, gradually stopped being famous among parents who found it to be a way of dissuading hard work and industry. The old way of toiling to earn was slowly getting wiped out, which was utterly unacceptable among senior members of the society. The movement started facing opposition publicly, the impression spread, and right now as we’re speaking, its policies are on the verge of getting entirely ditched.
Here’s the point: The self-esteem movement is not in your defense anymore. If your kid is to grow into the little audacious and fearless man/lady you want them to, then it all has to be thanks to you.