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Helping Children Recognize Their Self-Worth

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” We know that our self-talks and much of our low self-esteem comes not from what is said to us, but what we say to ourselves.

Have you ever had that experience where something someone says to you during the course of the day seems to repeat itself in your mind? Does it affect you as you go about your everyday business and make you feel unworthy and perhaps even interfere with your relationships?

Most of us have this experience on a regular basis and it’s not easy to forget the comments because our mind plays the words and eventually we believe it ourselves. We may even convince ourselves of something that was not intended by the person who spoke the words to us.


We may not like to admit it, but we allow the words of others to affect us. We recite the child’s poem “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Yet we know they do! Most people would agree that long after broken bones heal, the pain of negative words lingers on.

As children, we were often hurt by the negative talk of those who were the significant people in our lives. Even if we didn’t realize how those words affect us, we carried these negative thoughts into our adult years. We tend to filter what others say to us through the filter of our experiences. It is difficult to change our own perceptions, but for our children, it’s not too late.

As parents and adults, we can help our children to develop strong self-esteem by thinking about the words we use when we talk to them. Teaching them to recognize their own self worth is essential to helping them develop strong self-esteem. Significant adults in children’s lives must give them lots of praise and help them to recognize their achievements. However, it is equally important to ensure that a child can recognize their own self-worth and to maintain strong self-esteem even when may need to be disciplined for things they do which may not be praiseworthy.

As adults, we learn to hear praise and reject it consciously or subconsciously. When we learn to praise ourselves appropriately, we own the praise. Teaching a child to praise its own accomplishment teaches a child an important resource that will greatly help them in the future.

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