Nurturing a positive self-concept in our children as they move through the “tween” and teen years can be a challenge. Harsh, even mean, social comparisons and peer criticisms chip away at their self-esteem on a daily basis. However, research published in April 2019 offers a practical and efficient way to improve our children’s self-esteem even during these years. This study used data collected from 6,209 11-year-old children participating in the United Kingdom Millennium Cohort study. These children completed a self-esteem scale as well as a questionnaire to determine how often they listened to or played music, engaged in visual arts, or read for enjoyment at home. They were also asked how often, if at all, one or both parents joined them in the activity. Finally, teachers rated the children’s level of ability in music, art, design, and the English language. The results revealed at least three interesting findings.
- Children who engaged in visual arts activities “most days” tended to have significantly higher levels of self-esteem than those who participated less often. That difference doubled when comparing those who engaged in art activities “most days” with those who engaged in art activities “less than once a month.”
- Children who engaged in reading or in making/listening to music with a parent 1-2 times a week also reported a higher level of self-esteem than those who did not.
- Finally, a child did not have to be good at the activity to reap the benefit of a higher self-esteem by engaging in that activity. It appears that engaging in the activity, not one’s ability, was the key factor.
In other words, a great way to nurture your child’s self-esteem is through visual arts, music, and literature. Children experienced a higher self-esteem when engaging in visual arts independently and with parents. Reading and music showed increases in self-esteem when engaged in with a parent. What does this mean for you and your children? You can nurture a healthy self-concept and a higher level of self-esteem in your child by:
- Reading to them and with them.
- Reading the same book as your child and taking the time to talk about the book with your child or teen.
- Listen to music together and talk about the music you listen to.
- Sing together. Play instruments together. (This is a great family fun night, too.)
- Dance together.
- Draw or paint together.
- Make crafts or art projects together.
You may be thinking, “But I’m no good at those things.” That’s OK. Remember, the study revealed that you don’t have to be good at the activity to reap the benefits of an improved self-image. Just enjoy the process. Enjoy the time together. And enjoy your child’s boost in self-esteem.