I was reading an article this morning that said, “by age 5, children have a sense of self-esteem that rivals adults.” – Lyndsey Layton, Washington Post.
A study done in Seattle had more than 230 children participate in it, and it found that 90 percent of those children had positive self-esteem, and only 10 percent had negative self-esteem. So why do so many children struggle with self-esteem after age five, and what can we do to help them? This was the question I was after.
When children are 6-11 years old, they compare themselves to their peers, and their self-esteem gets questioned. This was around the exact age my self-esteem was negatively impacted. I remember going to a new school and completely feeling out of place and not as smart or popular as my peers. The once confident me shrunk down to an insecure little girl. My self-esteem took seconds to lower and years to rebuild.
When we enter the tween years, we start to feel more pressure, such as academic pressure, peer pressure, and performance pressure in sports and other activities. This is the age we begin to perceive disapproval of others, which affects our self-esteem. We can also start to feel incompetent and less than. All of this affects the way we view ourselves. So how do we combat this? My mom and I have been on a mission to help give children the tools they need to have confidence in themselves to face any challenges that come their way.
COVID gave us a long time to ponder, and the answer was right there in front of our eyes the whole time. It was one of the family traditions my mom had started with our family when I was 12 years old. Unfortunately, when this tool was introduced, my self-esteem had already been knocked down a few pegs, but I can say it was the reason I rebuilt my self-esteem to where it is today.
The tool that worked for my family was gratitude. We would pass the homemade gratitude stick my mom had made around the dinner table and say two things we were grateful for and one thing we liked about ourselves. Doing this every day gave us a growth mindset and allowed us to find something we liked about ourselves. It took us out of the negative thinking and into the positive.
We have taken this family tradition and turned it into a children’s book for children ages 5-10. Those early ages when self-esteem begins to get questioned. We believe that with daily gratitude practice, children can learn to appreciate what they have and who they are as a person. Instead of comparing themselves to others, they will be grateful for their differences and welcome challenges and obstacles. They won’t view things as unfavourable but will see them as lessons and opportunities to grow.
The answer to helping children have high self-esteem is simple, but it isn’t easy. It takes daily practice, and we believe we have created an excellent tool for the whole family to enjoy.