7 Parental Mistakes That Can Give Children Low Self-Esteem

 7 Parental Mistakes That Can Give Children Low Self-Esteem

 

The more parents love their children, the more likely it is that the children will develop high self-esteem. However, loving your children is not always enough. Some parents genuinely love their children but unknowingly make certain parenting mistakes that prevent their children from developing self-esteem. Even if your parents gave you liv at mb lots of love during your upbringing you may thus still have low self-esteem if they made one or several of these mistakes. By avoiding these parenting mistakes you can yourself make sure that you do not prevent your own children from building up their self-esteem.

  1. To not listen to children’s negative emotions.
    It can be difficult for parents to listen to children’s negative emotions, especially if they are considered socially inappropriate (e.g. if they dislike their teachers or relatives) or if the children feel negative emotion towards their parents. However, if children are not shown that it is OK to express negative emotions they will not learn how to deal with such emotions later in life. Adults who have been taught to suppress their negative emotions during childhood continue to suppress them as adults and as a result develop various problems, such as depression. Some parents who do not know how to listen to children expressing negative emotions say “Cheer up” or “Don’t be silly” or “Big boys don’t cry”. They may mean well, but the better alternative is to listen to the children AND show that you listen to them by paraphrasing what you have heard them say (e.g. “I can understand that you are angry because I tell you that you cannot have any cookies before dinner”). If you learn that it is bad to feel negative emotions you will feel like a bad person every time negative emotions arise. Consequently you will develop low self-esteem. Negative emotions are good and they arise for us to learn something from. People with high self-esteem accept their negative emotions and express them in appropriate ways.
  2. To not control their own emotions.
    Children learn by imitating their parents. If the parents are not good at controlling their own emotions, children will not learn how to control their emotions either. To effectively control your emotions you need to allow yourself to feel the emotions, accept them and then discharge them in appropriate ways under appropriate circumstances (e.g. talking to a friend or writing in a diary rather than killing a person you are angry with, saying a hurtful comment or numbing yourself with drugs). As I explained earlier, it is important to learn to deal with your emotions in order to develop high self-esteem. To love yourself you need to accept yourself, including your emotions. When parents cannot control their own emotions they may behave towards their children in ways that they later regret. They may threaten or even hit their children, and this is clearly not good for children’s self-esteem as it tells them that they are not good enough. Learning to control your own emotions is therefore the most important thing you can do to become a good parent.
  3. To give children the message that it is bad to make mistakes.
    Parents may want to help their children develop by scolding them for their mistakes. However, when a child is scolded for making a mistake or for failing with a task, it gives him/her the impression that mistakes must be avoided at all cost. To avoid making their parents angry they may start to hide their mistakes or blame others. They may also set lower goals for themselves out of fear of failure. As adults they don’t dare to dream big and as a result they never become high achievers. They feel incompetent and resentful for having less than others. The seed of low self-esteem is sown. Instead, parents should show that it is OK to make mistakes by not paying much attention to their children’s mistakes and instead focus on their achievements. Also, parents should admit their own mistakes to show children that it is OK to make mistakes and that doing so doesn’t make you a bad person.
  4. To not say no or not let the children say no.
    Some parents are afraid of losing control of their children and therefore don’t allow the children to say no. They demand mindless obedience. This gives children the message that it is not OK to say no. Other parents are too afraid of hurting their children or of the children throwing a tantrum that they never say no to the children’s wishes. As children model their parents, children of such parents also learn that it is bad to say no. Saying no is important for your self-esteem. If you don’t learn to say no you may end up spending all your energy to please others rather than caring about your own needs. Stress, dissatisfaction, unhappiness and of course low self-esteem will follow. Children need to learn how to say no both by being allowed to say no themselves and by hearing their parents say no.
  5. To teach children to be grateful for what they have instead of wanting more.

 

 

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