Self-Esteem is defined as the extent to which an individual believes himself or herself to be capable, significant, successful, and worthy. The amount of self-esteem, or having self-esteem has become a marker for the psychological well-being of a person, as well as a factor in the resiliency of an individual. So how does one develop self-esteem?
Self esteem is developed in middle childhood, when a child reaches elementary school and begins to compare themselves to other children based on their abilities, appearances and many other factors. In addition to this, the most important way a child gains their self-esteem is through parent-child interactions, or child-rearing. Parents can affect their child's self esteem simply by the way they encourage or discourage them. A parent who is accepting and gives positive reinforcement and is nurturing of their child will most likely produce a child with high self-esteem. On the other hand, a parent who puts down a child's self-worth, or is negative and not nurturing to their child is likely to produce a child with low self-worth and self-esteem. Also, the amount of support or expectations that a parent puts on a child has a huge effect on the child. A child who receives support that coincides with their skills and helps them just enough is likely to develop self-esteem and confidence in their skills, while a child who receives too much or no help is likely to feel negatively about their skills.
A parent who uses an "authoritative" approach to child-rearing will find that it provides the optimal level of assistance and nurturing to give the child good self-esteem. As you can see, the parent to child dynamic is a very large factor in the development of a child's self-esteem.
Culturally, other things also affect a child's self-esteem. Children in Asian countries, while having high test scores, have low self-esteem, probably because while they view others with high levels of praise, do not feel the same about themselves. Meanwhile, African American children have high levels of self-esteem probably because of their extended families and ethnic pride in their heritage.
Here is a link to a video on how to help develop a child's self-esteem, in ways other than only child-rearing.
Some interesting questions:
Did your parents positively or negatively affect YOUR self-esteem when you were growing up?
Do you think that the concept of the "authoritative" parent is ideal for all aspects of child-rearing, or only for self-esteem building?
Do you think that parents in other cultures are typically, or try to be, authoritative parents? Or do they use other parenting styles?
Herz, L. and Gullone, E. (1999). The relationship between self esteem and parenting style: A cross-cultural comparison. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. Retrieved from http://jcc.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/30/6/742