Self-Esteem in Foster Children
Before we get into any specifics, we just first define self-esteem. Self-esteem is based on how we view ourselves and the way we conclude what our worth is and how valuable we are. It is not based on how other people view us, but how we view ourselves. Many children that have been in foster care system, may experience low self-esteem.
Why is self-esteem important? Well, it helps the child to establish and maintain peer relationships, be successful in academics, will be well equipped to deal with peer pressure, and able to manage and regulate strong emotions. When you are working with a foster child, part of the healing is to boost their self-esteem. When self-esteem is low, it can impact the child negatively. With low self-esteem comes avoiding social interaction, limited peer relationships, lack of confidence in their abilities to accomplish tasks, experiencing emotional distress; anxiety, depression, shame, etc., and struggling to complete tasks (this includes schoolwork). There are many ways to nurture self-esteem, and to support your little ones to boost their self-concept and self-worth.
Here are a few techniques to try out:
•“You did it!” instead of “Good Job”—This builds up the child’s self-esteem intrinsically, versus extrinsic rewarding system.
•Try to describe what you see and ask questions about the process rather thanmaking a subjective statement—i.e. “How did you make it?” (we want the child to focus on their own ideas and feelings)
•Use warmth and empathy to assist the child in learning more about themselves—i.e. The child did not make the soccer team, instead of saying “well, next time you’ll work harder and make it” you want to say.”
•Help children bust inaccurate views—i.e. “I’m bad at school” and helping them to challenge that to recognize that its Math, that is a weakness and need more support.
•“Catch” your child being good—giving praise as often without overdoing it. “Thank you for putting your dishes away without me even saying anything.”
•Reduce the conflict within the home environment—children that are exposed to family conflict (divorce, fights, arguments) may be at risk of internalizing and feeling guilty. KIDS MIRROR!
These are just a few ways to support your foster child(ren) to increase their self-esteem. Remember, that self-esteem may be co-occurring with anxiety or depression. If you are recognizing the symptoms of mental health, please schedule a consultation with a counselor or therapist to provide additional support. Working with children, I have utilized a technique that provides a quick intervention for anxiety, it is meant to tackle the milder anxiety level with three simple question. My book called, “My Magical Three, That Sets Me Free” provides the three questions, and teaches the child how to let go of worries that are not in their control. You can find you copy on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, and Books-A-Million.
About the Author:
Arezoo "Azy" Khanzadeh has been working in the mental health field for over 18 years with an emphasis on trauma, anxiety and mood disorders. Her approach to therapy allows clients to take their own course, with her challenging guidance surfacing only when necessary. With a love of arts and crafts, Azy sometimes incorporates her sessions with art projects in an attempt to hear her clients’ stories and guide them through their own journey. Her community work has ranged from attending round table discussions, events, and providing training throughout the Fredericksburg-Stafford area in Virginia.
Born in Iran and raised in the United States, Azy currently resides in Stafford, Virginia where she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She’s bi-lingual and gets most passionate when she’s volunteering and gaining international experience from traveling abroad.