How to Build Self-Esteem in Children Facing Hardships at Home

No one likes to think about little ones dealing with hardships at home. Unfortunately, it’s a more common occurrence than you might realize. It’s estimated that 4 in 10 American children live in a household struggling to meet basic expenses. Other children have to live with arguing parents, the effects of drugs and alcohol on their families, and even abuse. 

While you might not be able to change the home life of every child, there are things you can do to build their self-esteem. Self-esteem can be a hard thing for them to develop when they’re struggling with a personal hardship at home, but it can be fostered by other people in their lives – especially teachers. 

Build Self-Esteem
Photo by Katerina Holmes:

So, what can you do to help build authentic self-esteem for the children in your life? Let’s cover a few steps that can make a big difference. By fostering well-rounded self-esteem now, those kids can grow up to be strong, independent, and make healthy choices despite their circumstances at home. You can be a part of that. 

Encourage the Things They Enjoy

Building authentic self-esteem in children can often be as simple as encouraging them to do things they enjoy and things they’re good at. Maybe they’re naturally gifted at sports, or they’re a great artist. Maybe they have a knack for music, or they have a wonderful imagination. If you see these skills and passions in them every day, find ways to make them a more consistent part of that child’s life. 

Some children who struggle with their self-esteem might believe they aren’t “good” at anything. While that can be heartbreaking to see, you can still help them boost their confidence. Work with them to discover new interests or hobbies. They’re likely to find something they’re good at fairly quickly. Help them set realistic goals and support them no matter what endeavour they choose. You can also help them overcome some of the challenges of authentic self-esteem, including: 

  • Envy/comparison
  • Expectations
  • Fear
  • Self-image
  • Self-talk

If they don’t get that same confidence boost at home, you’ll also be “fighting” against the effects of their home life. However, by being a supportive and encouraging influence, you could help a child build a skill and find a hobby that will positively impact them for the rest of their life. 

Praise Their Perseverance

Build Self-Esteem

You might not know the full extent of what every child is going through at home. However, it’s often easy to pick up on subtle hints when things aren’t as great as they should be. Those kids might struggle with everything from keeping up their grades to maintaining healthy friendships. 

One of the best things you can do to boost their confidence is to let them know that you see the good they’re doing. You admire their perseverance and the work they’re putting in every day. Even if they’re struggling, don’t discount the things they’re working on. It shows them that they matter and that they have value. 

With that being said, don’t be afraid to let them sometimes fail, too. That might seem counterproductive, but great things can stem from failure, especially if they have someone like you to encourage them to keep going. When they see that they can come back from something negative and make it even better, it’s a life lesson that they’ll take with them into adulthood. They’ll develop an understanding that their childhood hardships don’t have to define the success of their future. 

Find Ways to Celebrate Them

Unfortunately, many children who face hardships at home don’t get the attention they need or deserve. Their parents might work around the clock just to make ends meet. Or, they might be in a neglectful environment that makes them feel like they don’t matter. That can take a heavy toll on their self-esteem. 

You can fight back against that by finding ways to celebrate them. One of the easiest ways to do that as an educator is to make sure you celebrate everyone’s birthday each year. Consider throwing a small party for each of your students in the classroom. You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to create something special, and you never know what the gesture might mean for a child who doesn’t get a lot of attention at home. Some of the best ways to put together an affordable party for your class are: 

  • Baking your own cake or other sweet treats
  • Buying snacks in bulk
  • Asking parents or PTA members to chip in 
  • Finding an easy theme

Of course, birthdays only come once a year. You can find other ways to celebrate your students and boost their confidence by acknowledging their good work and offering rewards throughout the school year. When they start to feel more confident in themselves, it will reflect in their school work and their friendships. 

You have the opportunity to greatly influence the lives of children who might have difficult home lives. Thankfully, it’s easier to do than you might think and one of the most rewarding things you can do as an educator. 

How to Build Self-Esteem in Children Facing Hardships at Home 1

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