Who determined your self-image?

You are asked to describe yourself in three adjectives. Have you ever been asked this question? How would you answer?

Are your honest answers how you feel you are perceived or how you really think you are?

It’s important to realize that your self-image develops as you grow. That’s right, your self-image is like a mirror based on what other people feed to you in your formative years.

From birth to today, others’ praise, criticism, statements, assumptions, and expectations of you have formed and continue to form your self-image. That’s right, you didn’t initially design your own self-image, it’s been provided to you. Good or bad, others have molded your image.

“Many family scientists consider self-esteem to be the single most important factor in shaping a person’s life.”*  High self-esteem frequently equates to productive, lovable, capable, and effective adults.

If your self-esteem is low, it’s likely due to outside influences.

Say you’ve grown up with a poor sense of self-image, remember you are like a mirror, in other words, you reflect what has been shined on you. Were you told by adult influences that you weren’t doing the right things? Were you criticized instead of guided? While we are in control of our thoughts and actions, those types of experiences when a person is young carry a heavy amount of weight.

Knowing this, you can take charge of your future self-worth and implement positive changes. Listening to motivational talks on the Web and being kind to yourself and others can be a great start.

We all have the ability to further our abilities, to get that promotion, to be a better citizen. You know the old saying, “Fall down seven times, get up eight”? We all fall. We all have the capability to rise. It will get easier to get back up. The gravity of the sting is not the same each time.

What’s interesting is that we can have an image of ourselves, but other people may have a different image of us. I can easily relate to this psychology. I have become aware of how others view me and how I view myself. I can see the interweaving of the two. I can pretty easily say my viewpoint of myself and the expectations I hold of myself are due to external forces.

This didn’t really come into true clarity for me until a few years back.

The University of Washington states, “By age 5 children have a sense of self-esteem comparable in strength to that of adults.”**

It goes on to state that a person’s self-esteem level tends to remain “relatively stable” across one’s lifespan. “The study suggests that this important personality trait is already in place before children begin kindergarten.”**

Raising a child involves even more than what appears to the naked eye.  On top of balancing taking care of your child, your relationships, your work, and your daily life – your child’s future hinges on the relationship you have with them during these formative years. It goes without saying and is being more and more spoken about that new moms, family units, co-parents, and caregivers feel an immense amount of pressure across the board.

“Self-esteem appears to play a critical role in how children form various social identities. Our findings underscore the importance of the first five years as a foundation for life.”**

Taking your own self esteem into play, and if you choose to have children, what would you like to imprint on them? Focusing on positive reinforcement, allowing them to try new things, and encouraging them along the way may lead to improved self-esteem.

You may be wondering, how do I influence my child to have good self-esteem?

These 5 phrases can help instill good self-esteem in a child:

“You did that very well.”

“That is a good idea!”

“I love you.”

“We are proud of you.”

“That’s great progress.”

Now turn those statements around and it becomes pretty clear how damaging negativity can be to a child.

“Self-esteem is a family affair. It is in the family that we first decide who we are and how to be that way.”*

Other ways to help your child develop a positive self-image includes forming a strong and loving bond when very young, setting limits of acceptable behavior through role-modeling, providing a safe environment, and being available to listen to your child.

As a child the “need for parental approval and acceptance is so strong that they will try very hard to do what the parent expects of them.”*



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