6 Essential Ways to Instill a Positive Self-Concept.

With that in mind, a positive self-concept is a strong predictor of long-term mental health and overall wellbeing. A positive self-concept is attributed to resilience—one’s ability to achieve positive outcomes despite negative or challenging experiences.

On the other hand, a positive self-concept is a critical construct in educational psychology. As such, fostering a positive self-concept is often regarded as a goal of education, and it has been linked to a variety of educational outcomes.

Some of the educational benefits of a positive self-concept include:

  • Higher academic achievement
  • Improved persistence
  • Improved approaches to learning, and
  • Improved coursework choices

A healthy self-concept also has a major influence on psychological and social outcomes—it encourages the healthy development of:

  • Personal and social abilities
  • Coping skills
  • Social interaction
  • Overall happiness
  • Emotional adjustment and socialization, and
  • Parent-child relationships

With this in mind, educators and parents need to work together to help school-aged children develop healthy self-concepts.

Let’s delve deeper into how self-concept is formed.

Factors That Shape Self-Concept

Self-concept can be shaped by feedback received from parents, siblings, teachers, community, and coaches. Temperament, context, cultural heritage, gender, life experiences, and the media can also shape who a person thinks he/she is, and even how they feel about themselves.

According to self-comparison theory, comparisons to other people have a major influence on self-concept. Individuals describe and assess themselves based on how they compare themselves to other people.

Early childhood years can also influence an individual's self-concept. Under the right circumstances, one's self-concept can be transformed regardless of how it was created.

Evidence-Based Interventions for Self-Concept Development

Developing a positive self-concept should start at an early age—from when a child is an infant. In addition, interventions for building self-concept require a solid working theory, receptive and informed participants, thoughtful planning, and consistency.

Below are tips that educators and parents can utilize to develop a positive self-concept in children and youth:

Promote a Healthy Self-Image

Self-image refers to the way an individual sees themselves both mentally and physically. Self-image is based on self-perception, including how one perceives one's appearance, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors.

Self-image can be shaped by learning, and by personal experiences with parents, teachers, and significant others.

Accordingly, early childhood influences can have significant effects on a person’s self-image. Interactions with others can affect how children or youth think or feel about themselves. Consequently, the level of self-image can affect mental health during childhood, and into adulthood.

Self-image also influences school achievement and academic success. With this in mind, educators and parents can foster a healthy self-image by encouraging children and youth to:

  • Describe themselves using affirmative and encouraging words. Choosing the wrong words can undermine a person’s self-image—negative self labels can undermine an individual’s unconditional self-worth.
  • Recognize and appreciate their unique strengths and abilities, and maintain realistic expectations about their liabilities and limitations.
  • Love and appreciate themselves
  • Stop comparing themselves to others

On the other hand, teachers can foster self-image by:

Foster Positive Self-Concept Through Psychotherapy

Lack of a good self-image or poor self-concept can trigger many feelings and behaviors, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Absenteeism
  • Unwillingness to take risks
  • Self-destructive thought patterns
  • Indiscipline
  • Bullying
  • Fear of rejection and abandonment
  • Inability to form close relationships
  • Unnecessary self-protection

Accordingly, offering psychological counseling can create a positive self-concept, and break the cycle of unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. A school counselor or psychologist can help children and youth identify and modify their self-limiting beliefs. Psychologists also explore how poor self-concept may have developed.

With that in mind, the positive action guidance and counseling program is an appropriate tool for teaching students how to avoid negative behaviors. Importantly, the guidance and counseling program teaches students the emotional, psychological, physical, and behavioral benefits of positive actions.

Practice Attachment Parenting

A child’s self-concept begins to form when they are born. Consequently, parent-child relationships play a key role in children’s sense of self. Moreover, attachment security is an important component of social and emotional adjustment, and a healthy self-perception.

A parent’s attachment style or level of interest towards a child can determine the level of self-concept in a child—parents are the primary socializers of their children's expectations. A positive self-concept is more likely in a child who grows up in a supportive and secure environment.

Hence, creating a positive emotional bond with a child through a secure, nurturing and responsive relationship can foster a feeling of well-being. Secure children can develop an internal working model.

An internal working model provides a framework for understanding and approaching future interactions, as well as an understanding of themselves and others. In other words, the child’s relationship with the parent or caregiver provides a type of internal guidance for future behavior.

Foster Accountability for Actions

Almost every child wants to feel responsible and capable of doing what is required of them. Children need to feel responsible to maintain a healthy self-image, and for their lives to have meaning.

Children and youth want to feel important. They need to get the impression that their lives make a positive contribution. Accordingly, one of the most crucial skills we can teach our children is accountability.

When parents and teachers teach youth and children to take responsibility for their decisions and behavior, they are assisting them in becoming conscientious human beings and responsible community members.

Here are a few strategies for increasing your child’s response-ability:

  • Be a role model: A teacher’s or parent’s ability to accept responsibility is the first step in developing responsibility in children and youth. Don’t blame others for your mistakes or problems
  • Provide opportunities for accountability: Allow children and youth to make their own decisions
  • Hold the child accountable to rectify the mistake: Teach youth and children problem-solving skills for correcting mistakes.
  • Help them recognize that mistakes are an opportunity for growth
  • Assist them in gaining control of their situation: Institute a time management strategy where necessary.
  • Establish boundaries: Clear and firm rules stipulate consequences for behavior
  • Compliment the effort: Positive reinforcement offers encouragement to continue the behavior.

Emphasize on Setting Realistic Goals

Nothing is more demotivating than failing to accomplish a set goal. Accordingly, youth should be encouraged to set goals that represent an objective they are willing and able to work towards—realistic goals.

Goal-setting operates on a set of specific skills, which are easy to teach. As with most skills, teachers and parents need to start teaching effective goal-setting skills early. Students who accomplish set goals have a positive self-image, and a better understanding of their strengths, and weaknesses.

Strategies for effective goal-setting include:

  • Creating clear and measurable goals
  • Developing a detailed action plan for each goal
  • Reviewing goals daily and tracking progress
  • Revising action plans, if necessary

Persuade Children and Youth to Praise Themselves

Self-praise relieves a person of the need to wait for compliments or approval from others. Self-praise promotes the idea that it is acceptable to feel good about oneself.

Teaching youth and children to compliment themselves and their efforts is a delicate art. It entails assisting them in making realistic evaluations, gaining independence, and making their own decisions.

When a child or youth accomplishes a task, you can create opportunities for success by encouraging them to applaud themselves rather than complimenting them. For example, you can say, “You did well in your exams. How does it make you feel?”

Ascertain that the children can articulate specific positive aspects of their experience or achievement. Encourage children to praise themselves even when no one is listening. Most importantly, help children and youth distinguish between bragging and self-praise.

Take Steps to Shape the Self-Concepts of Your Students

Success in life, including academic achievement, is determined by how a child or youth feels about him/herself rather than by abilities or talent. Students who achieve success in academics and life, in general, know their worth, and their importance.

Moreover, students with healthy self-concepts can resist peer pressure. They are less likely to engage in unacceptable social behaviors, including substance abuse.

Nonetheless, the best strategy for fostering a positive self-concept among youth and children is a concentrated effort between educators and parents.

Positive Action programs are ideal for both educators and parents, and they’re highly effective in helping schools and students thrive. Here’s a success story from Compton Unified School District:

Watkins has been an enthusiastic and faithful implementer of PA. He says, “I like the Positive Action curriculum because it allows teachers to discuss issues such as self-esteem, respect, and hygiene in more detail than we normally would, which helps the students tremendously. Due to the daily reinforcement, my students’ behavior has improved immensely and, therefore, has made a positive impact on their academic achievement and attendance. My students now have a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses because they now have a new and positive concept of themselves.”

For instance, the Positive Action T-A-F curriculum teaches students to engage in positive thoughts and actions so they can feel good about themselves.

By incorporating the positive action programs into your school curriculum, the self-concepts of students will continue to grow, and boost academic achievement.