When does self esteem begin? Many times we think that self esteem begins in our children when they hit their tween years, not realizing that it really begins at birth. It is developed with the influence of parental attitudes and behaviors right from birth and then continuing on into all the childhood developments. Their self-esteem is first built by having their basic needs met, including the need for love, comfort, and closeness. How children are treated by their parents or primary caregivers sets the stage for how their self-esteem is developed. Young babies and children who feel unloved find it more difficult to develop a sense of self-worth and then carry those feeling on into later childhood and on into their teen years. Supportive parental behavior, including encouragement and praise for accomplishments, as well as the child’s internalization of the parents’ own attitudes toward success and failure, are the most powerful factors in the development of self-esteem in early childhood. Stresses at home, such as parents arguing a lot, or not having friends to play with and interact with, can have a negative impact on a child’s self-esteem and self-worth even at a very early age. When children have a good quality of self-esteem they can handle conflicts, peer pressures and making friends, easier. Preschoolers learn self-esteem in stages through developing their senses of trust, independence, and initiative with their parents and siblings and then that moves on into interacting with their friends and other relatives. Self-esteem comes from different sources for children at different stages of development. Our self esteem is instilled in us during our youth. It is very important to be aware if the under current in the home is critical; as being criticized by parents and family members tends to slowly strip the child of their feelings of self worth. Self esteem is described as having an inner good feeling of oneself. It is the way you perceive yourself and your self value. When this reflects within the child, it is what they think and feel about themselves and how well they feel that they do things, this is ultimately what is important to them and this is the foundation their self esteem is built upon. As the children grow and mature and their experiences move outside the immediate home and move on into school, and with their peers, it becomes more important in these areas how they determine their self-esteem. Schools also have a huge influence on self-esteem through the attitudes they foster toward competition and diversity and their recognition of achievement in academics, sports, and the arts. At this stage, social acceptance by a child’s peer group plays a major role in developing and maintaining self-esteem. The physical and emotional changes that take place in adolescence, especially in early adolescence, present new challenges to a child’s self-esteem. They are faced with physical and hormonal changes and this the time when teens go through major changes in their lives and their self-esteem can tend to be very fragile. This is the time when teens require and need to have a very supportive family. Fitting in with their peers becomes more important than ever to teens self-esteem, and, in later adolescence, relationships with the opposite sex or sometimes the same sex can become a major source of confidence or insecurity. Body image is a major component in teenagers’ self-esteem, and they are very concerned about how their peers see them. This goes for both boys and girls, body image is very important and teens who have high self-esteem like the way they look and accept themselves the way they are. Parents can foster self-esteem by expressing affection and support for the child and to start this as previously stated in the early years, will be helping the child set realistic goals for achievement instead of imposing unreachably high standards. Teens that learn to set goals in their lives have higher self-esteem than those who do not. During this time and even before, children and/or teens can be taught visualization. This is an excellent tool to create and develop self esteem in all individuals and a great visualization tool is vision map videos. Teens can also be encouraged to watch the words they use to describe themselves, such as if they constantly say they are stupid or that they can’t achieve success; they need to understand that is what will happen. So, make it a habit of saying positive things and use this positive posturing to create self esteem to their full advantage. The use of affirmations is also a great way for them to start using affirming language and these are also featured in vision map videos. Be sure and explain to your teen that nobody is perfect in the eyes of everyone else, so by trying to be perfect you may just be setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. Spend more time focusing on the qualities about them that you like and less on the ones that you dislike. Teach them to believe in themselves completely, and others will also believe and trust in them.