Parent-Child Interaction and Self-Esteem

Self esteem is a fundamental need just like food, water, security and love. A positive self-esteem will instigate inner-freedom and autonomy. When you reach these goals, you increase your ability to make enlightening life-choices that takes into consideration your self-identity and your aspirations. Your accomplishments, your ability to interact with others, your level of mental health – in general - your state of well being depends on it.

Think about all the opportunities you lost because you chose to sacrifice your interest and made choices under the influence of insecurity, to please your family and/or spouse not to mention for financial reason. How many opportunities did you sacrificed because you feared the outcome, because you ignored what the future holds for you, because you didn’t believe in yourself and in your abilities?


You experiment a moment of success and you’re very proud. A few hours later, you experiment a situation of failure and you’re depressed and very self-judgemental. Those feelings can be normal. Are you able to calm down, to reason yourself and to recall your success, your strengths and your positive traits? Are you able to regain your feeling of self-esteem balance?

Are you experimenting difficulty communicating your issues, your feelings or even sharing ideas with others?

As a child, do you remember feeling safe expressing any feelings or opinions (whether positive or negative) or did you fear criticism or humiliation?

Did your educators pay any attention at all to your concerns; did they take you seriously?

Do you feel ever having been supported or encouraged in any of your most important activities, transitional events such as graduations or in the realization of any of your dreams?

Do you feel isolation even in a crowd or in your own family? You would like to socialize with others but you sense have nothing in common or nothing worth while to share?

If this is your situation, I picture your heart and mind questioning: "How did I reach this level of low self-esteem? Why do I have such negative feelings about myself? Why am I not able to love myself unconditionally?"

As you read the next paragraphs, you will begin to understand the developmental-process of a healthy self-esteem in the life a child. Notice the importance of the child-educator interpersonal relationship in this development. This might enlightened you in your answer to all your questions.


Self-esteem is not innate. Parents were your first educators, therefore the first initiators of your personal growth. A child begins to feel he’s a loveable and valuable individual if he is raised in a secure, loving family environment.

I quote James Battle in his book "Misconceptions Regarding Self-Esteem":

"The parent-child interactive process is the most important variable affecting whether the children will develop high, low or intermediate levels of self-esteem."

Parents that are conscious about their children’s personal development will practice the following strategies enhancing self-esteem; they will always have in mind the children’s rights, opinions and behavioural limits. From the same author, I quote and summarize those strategies:

Mutual respect: Through behavioural interactions, the parents communicate their children that as a person they basic rights; they intend to respect that.

Consideration of self-esteem: The parent will take into consideration the child’s self esteem in any interactive approach.

Unconditional positive regard: A parent practicing this strategy with children will communicate no predetermined conditions or limits to the love they have for them – no matter the behavioural outcome. Love is provided freely.

Encouragement: Those parents emphasise the child’s abilities, positive traits rather than consistently insisting on the negative aspects.

Recognition of Effort and improvement: The parent will stress the child’s effort of improvement in his behaviour or performance no matter the positive or negative outcome.

Recognition of contributions and appreciations: The parent rewards the child for these contributions and praises him.

Appropriate Stimulation: A parent will pay attention to children’s abilities and interests and encourage the development without going to excess and this way promoting his ability to adjust in life.

Democratic Child-rearing: The parent allows the child to express feelings and opinions without any fear of rejection or reprimand.

Straight Communication: Communication between parent and child is straight-forward. No message of contradiction.

Opportunities of success: Parents provide the child with opportunities of success. They present tasks that are fairly simple, than gradually increase the complexity minimizing any possibility of failure.

Openness in Expressing Feelings: Parents should encourage their children to recognize their feelings and deal with them directly rather than disguise or avoid them.

Consistency and Flexibility: Parents should be consistent but also opened to new ideas.

Evaluating your own educator-child relationship and its impacts over you.

In our last encounter, I invited you to journey inwards into the core of your inner self, You were invited to pay very special attention to your feelings, to your inner-voices and to picture the scenery images or symbols that would pop into your mind or imagination. Than I invited you begin a journal writing down all those observations. Did you do your homework? Surprise! You didn’t realize there was going to be a follow-up to this? If you haven’t had the opportunity or time to do so, please take the time. Maybe you didn’t read the content of that particular encounter! For the details of this experience entitled:

An experience is worth a thousand words

Enlightened by the information shared in this encounter and the notes in your daily journal, answer the following questions:

1. Enlightened by the strategies described by Psychologist James Battle, describe your parents educative strategic approach used to develop your child self-esteem.

2. What where your parents’ major strengths; How did these strengths enhance the development of your self-esteem as a child?

3. What where your parents’ weaknesses? How did it affect your self-esteem as a child?

A better understanding of self-esteem development can serve as a guideline to help you pinpoint the issues, in regards your interpersonal relationship with your parents and educators; they help you understand your feelings about yourself. As we continue further and deeper in our journey, we might discover signs and symptoms of illnesses that are related to low self-esteem.

I know that you are anxious to read about the therapeutic approach for increasing your self-esteem. As a writer I was also debating this choice; I reached the conclusion that therapeutic approaches may vary, depending on the illness. A better understanding of low self-esteem illnesses will enlighten you even more as to the best choice of therapeutic approach most suitable for you.

The Sources:

  • Misconceptions Regarding Self-Esteem by James Battle Ph.D, James Battles and Associates # 406 Edwards Building 10053 - 111 Street Edmonton Alberta T5K 2H8 Copyright 1993

  • De l'estime de soi à l'estime du Soi - de la psychologie à la spiritualité par Jean Mombourquette,Editions Novalis/Bayard 4475, rue Frontenac Montréal PQ H2H 2S2 Copyright 2002

  • L'estime de soi, un passeport pour la vie par Germain Duclos, Éditions de l'Hôpital Sainte-Justine, 3175 chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine Montréal PC H3T 1C5 Copyright 2004