Is there a difference between self-esteem and self-worth? You bet there is! Most people use these two interchangeably, yet they are hugely different. We usually speak more about self-esteem, and the importance of making sure our children feel good about themselves, than we do self-worth. If you’ve never thought about this, you might be asking, what is the difference?
Self-worth is about being, or who we are; while self-esteem is about doing, or what we do.
Self-worth is a core belief in myself. It doesn’t change and is much deeper than self-esteem. The beginnings of self-worth are rooted in… are you ready for this… our experiences in childhood. During the first year of life, a baby learns if they cry, and someone listens to that cry and meets their needs, they feel important. A stronger self emerges. This means pressure, dear parents, to get this right during the formative years!
This confirms that the parent-child relationship is extremely important! Later on, peers become the primary influence, which is all the more reason for us to be intentional early on. We surely want them to be more influenced by us than their peers. Agree?
We are able to make statements like this, if we have a strong sense of self:
I am of value, simply because God created me.
I believe in myself.
I am loveable.
I am capable.
I can make a difference.
I am enough.
I am competent, even when I mess up.
Self-esteem is what I think, feel and believe about myself. It can change in a moment and is dependent on our accomplishments and performances. See if this resonates. You are feeling fairly confident about your parenting abilities until your parents and in-laws give you their unsolicited opinion about how they think you should be parenting. Wham! In a flash, you feel totally inept and begin to second-guess yourself.
How to foster your child’s healthy self-worth:
- Respect their feelings and opinions
- Encourage them
- Let them fail
- Let them make decisions whenever possible
- Love them unconditionally
We want to be the biggest encourager they have ever encountered! This means giving them kudos from time to time. Saying things like “good work” is better than no praise, but what is most important is giving them credit for the process, “you knew just how to manage your time so you would be finished with your project by the due date.”
Kids need to fail, and we need to allow it. As hard as this is to watch, be reminded failure contributes to a healthy sense of self.
They need to be adept at problem solving, so let them make decisions whenever possible. This means to refrain from telling them what to do, or how to do it. The message this sends to them is you have confidence in their ability to come up with the solution that’s right for them. Talk about a confidence booster!
Respect them enough to let them share their views and opinions even though they might be different from yours. Ask them what their thoughts are on certain things. This is particularly true with teens.
Give them your time and undivided attention in some way each day. You don’t need to spend money to do this. Play with your young children, go get a coke with your teen or spend one-on-one time together before bed.
We know the way we feel about ourselves affects the way we live our lives – specifically, how we act, how we treat others and even the decisions we make. All the more reason to be mindful about helping our children embrace the fact that they matter!
There’s Always Hope,
Need more help? Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?” While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services. Click Here to learn more.