If you are wondering how your parents could be affecting your self-esteem, you are in for a ride. Stay with us.
Growing up, I was the socially awkward type who avoided public attention. Despite this, I was even more awkward and uncomfortable with my parents. I’d rather be embarrassed publicly than be embarrassed in front of them.
Whenever I made a mistake in their presence, I would become so mad at myself. I later realized that those were signs of low self-esteem, but what did my parents have to do with it?
I hated looking bad before my parents because of how they criticized me. This made me believe they always judged me for my mistakes, and I became hostile about receiving criticism.
Self-esteem is a critical aspect of your overall well-being, impacting how you perceive yourself, interact with others, and approach life’s challenges.
As a young person, your self-esteem is significantly shaped by your parents’ attitudes, behaviour, and communication. As an adult, your self-esteem may have been shaped by how critical your parents were of you.
In this post, I’ll be exploring how your parents could be affecting your self-esteem and what you can do to improve that.
THE ROLE OF PARENTS IN SHAPING SELF-ESTEEM
How your parents brought you up would – no doubt – influence your self-identity and sense of self-worth. A parent’s parenting style in raising a child tends to have an enormous impact on the child’s self-image and confidence. There are four main parenting styles, they include:
1. Authoritative: Authoritative parents are warm, supportive, and responsive to their children’s needs while also setting clear expectations and boundaries. Children of authoritative parents tend to have higher self-esteem, feel more competent, and have better social skills.
2. Authoritarian: In contrast, authoritarian parents tend to be strict, controlling, and emphasize obedience and discipline. Children of authoritarian parents may have lower self-esteem and feel less competent, particularly in social situations.
3. Permissive: Permissive parents are warm and responsive but tend to be lenient and indulgent. Children of permissive parents may struggle with self-discipline and have difficulty setting boundaries for themselves, leading to lower self-esteem and feeling less capable.
4. Neglectful: Neglectful parents are emotionally and physically distant, often failing to meet their children’s basic needs. Children of neglectful parents are more likely to have low self-esteem and struggle with emotional and behavioral problems.
In addition to parenting styles, parental behaviour, and communication can also impact a child’s self-esteem. For instance, overpraising a child can make the child dependent on external validation. Such a child could also tend to set unrealistic expectations, leading to feelings of inadequacy when they don’t meet them.
On the other hand, a parent failing to give their child adequate constructive criticism could lead to a lack of self-improvement and stagnant development.
It is essential to strike a balance between offering positive feedback and constructive criticism.
COMMON WAYS PARENTS UNINTENTIONALLY AFFECT THEIR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM
Generally, parents all want their children to build high self-esteem and feel confident in themselves. However, there are several common mistakes that parents can make that unintentionally impact their child’s self-esteem. These mistakes include:
1. Being overprotective: One of the common mistakes parents make is overprotecting children from failure or disappointment. While it might seem right to shield children from negative experiences, that could prevent them from learning resilience and self-confidence. Children must learn that failure and mistakes are a natural part of life and can help them grow and develop.
2. Being overly critical: Some parents tend to lay a lot of emphasis on their children’s mistakes or failures. But that’s not the point of constructive criticism. And being overly critical can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, as well as anxiety about making mistakes in the future. Instead of criticizing, it’s better to provide constructive feedback and focus on posing solutions that children can use to improve.
3. Comparison: Comparing children to others is an unadvisable move many parents tend to resort to when correcting children. It’s essential to remember that each child is unique and has their own strengths and weaknesses. Comparing them to others can create unrealistic expectations and feelings of inadequacy.
4. Not providing adequate support: Parents can unintentionally harm their child’s self-esteem by not providing enough attention or support. Children need to feel valued and heard, and parents need to make time for one-on-one interactions to show their support.
By being mindful of these mistakes and working to avoid them, parents can help their children build a positive self-image and improve their self-esteem.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SITUATION IF YOU HAVE A NEGATIVE PARENT-CHILD DYNAMIC
If you had a negative parent-child dynamic, i.e., your parent’s actions negatively impact your self-esteem, you need to take some action. But what can you do to improve your self-esteem if you’re struggling due to your parents’ behaviour?
Always remember that you are not responsible for your parent’s behaviours. Here’s a short guide on how you can approach your parents if you have or have had negative parent-child dynamic:
1. Criticism and comparison: If your parents constantly criticize you, compare you to others, and fail to acknowledge their feelings, you discuss it with them. As much as you can, strive to be calm in your approach while being assertive about how their behaviour impacts you.
2. Not providing adequate support: If you’re not getting enough validation and support you needed from your parents, you can call their attention to it. You can also seek out positive role models, such as teachers, coaches, or mentors. These individuals can be a source of encouragement and guidance to help you build your self-esteem.
3. Being overprotective: If your parents have been overprotective of you, you may notice that you lack self-discipline and resilience. In such a case, you must gear up and determinedly let your parents know how their overprotectiveness affects you.
STEPS FOR IMPROVING YOUR SELF-ESTEEM
In addition to raising the issue with your parents, you must take personal steps to rebuild your self-esteem. The following are steps you can take to improve your self-esteem:
1. Set boundaries: You must set boundaries to keep your self-esteem from further harm. For instance, if your parents constantly criticize you, you might decide to limit the time you spend with them or avoid certain topics of conversation. This works best if you are already an adult but continue to experience high levels of criticism and conflict with your parent. It will be tricky if you are minor still living with your parents and under their care.
2. Seek out positive role models: You can seek positive role models to help build you. Teachers, coaches, mentors, or other family members might provide encouragement and guidance that can help rebuild your self-esteem.
3. Challenge negative thoughts: If you’ve grown up with an overly critical parent, you might have internalized negative beliefs about yourself. It’s important to recognize these thoughts and challenge them with positive beliefs. For example, if you find yourself thinking, “I’m not good enough,” you might remind yourself of past accomplishments.
4. Practice self-compassion: Self-compassion means treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer to a close friend. If you struggle with self-esteem, you might be hard on yourself for perceived failures or shortcomings. However, by practicing self-compassion, you can learn to accept yourself as you are and recognize that everyone makes mistakes.
5. Set small goals: Building self-esteem takes time, but setting small goals for yourself can help you see progress and feel more confident. Choose challenging but achievable goals, such as learning a new skill or completing a project, and celebrate your accomplishments.
6. Go on a self-discovery journey to strengthen and validate your identity: We are more than our DNAs and genetics. There is a God who created you and your identity is rooted in HIs love and purpose for you. Go on a discovery journey with your maker to fully understand who are you. This will help you have a strong identity and live more purposefully.
7. Make a decision to forgive: Said forgiveness will be both for you (for doing things that put you under fire) and your parents (for impacting you negatively)
By taking these steps, you can gradually build your self-esteem and overcome the negative impact of a problematic parent-child dynamic.
If you are a parent reading this, how are you going to change how you treat your kids moving forward?
Anita’s book Reve-Healed is such a beautiful story and in her book, she highlights how negative parent-child dynamic can damage a child, yet through resilience and applying these steps identified, you can rise above such experiences. If you haven’t get your copy now!