Children’s self-image in the digital world

15 February 2022

Everyone has their own self-image. A young child is fortunately not so concerned with this yet, but he or she does have one. As a child gets older, he or she does become more aware of it. Just imagine, one day your child comes to you and says "mommy, today someone said to me that I always ruin everything. This statement has a bigger impact on your child than you may think. Statements like this can greatly affect your child's self-image. But what if this negative self-image has dangerous consequences, such as fear of failure or social anxiety?

Het zelfbeeld van kinderen in de digitale wereld

Self-esteem, what is it?
Self-image is the way a person views himself or herself. It is formed by thoughts, ideas and judgments that a person has about themselves. Your child's self-image develops unconsciously. How parents talk to their children determines what they will later believe. And what the children choose to believe from that partly shapes their self-image.

Children ages 4 to 6, experience a lot of uncertainty. They experience many new things and learn to live with them. They become more aware of what they can and cannot do. At ages 7 to 9, children's self-image is not always stable. They learn a lot in a short period of time and become increasingly aware of what is expected of them. They also begin to compare themselves more and more to others, such as friends and/or girlfriends. Contact with peers is important, they listen to each other and adopt things from each other. But competition with others also feels stronger and stronger. Your child values independence, personal responsibility and privacy at this age. By giving him or her space, to develop in these areas, you give them more self-confidence and ultimately a positive self-image.

Because children's bodies are changing around age 10, children feel insecure. They start to care about the opinions of others. Because of the comments they receive about their bodies and clothing styles, your child may start to behave or dress differently.

The danger of comparing
Something that can have a big impact on children's self-image is social media. Because let's face it, everything you see on social media looks good. Look at Enzo Knol for example, everything on his Instagram feed is happy and colorful. But of course he too has lesser days, but you don't see them. This is because it is not fun to look at and thus is not entertainment for your child.

These kinds of situations can create a distorted view of the "perfect" picture and how to deal with friends. Their own opinion is distorted by everything they see and read. The strong effect social media has on your child usually happens unconsciously. This is because while scrolling online, children do not think about the filters used, the way of posing and what is the meaning behind some captions under photos. Unconsciously, they store all the images and strive for that "perfect" picture.

Pay close attention to your child's behavior and feelings when he or she is on social media. Talk together about the drawn image that social media presents. Show that all the images on social media are very unrealistic, even though sometimes it doesn't seem that way.

Talk to your child about their self-esteem
But how do you talk about this? You see, most children don't like to discuss their feelings. This makes talking about it difficult for you as a parent.
To find out what your child's self-image is, you can look at a few characteristics. How does your child talk about himself? Is this negative? Then he or she usually has lower self-esteem than someone who talks positively about himself or herself. If your child asks a lot for confirmation or has a lot of trouble dealing with criticism or standing up for themselves, then your child may also have low self-esteem. Therefore, it is important to talk about their feelings and self-image. Start a conversation about how he or she feels. Many clarifications can come from the conversation. By having a better idea about your child's self-image, you can support him or her in this.

This is how you create a more positive self-image in your child!

  1. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Your child sees you as a role model, so your self-image plays a big role in your child's positive self-image. Your actions, are an example to him or her. Try starting with yourself, grumble less about yourself, take criticism and process it in a good way. Or talk positively about the things you do in front of your child.
  2. Teach your child to listen to himself. Some are better at listing what they think is important, while others have more difficulty doing so. Explore together what he or she thinks is important. Remember to make him or her feel heard and seen about it.
  3. It is important that your child has room to make mistakes. By making mistakes and letting them solve themselves, a child learns a lot. Some children do not dare to make mistakes because it causes them to judge themselves negatively. These thoughts are bad for positive self-esteem. Let your child know that it is not bad to make mistakes.
  4. As a parent, be aware of how important it is to love your child. Consciously give your time, energy and attention to your child.

In short, your child's self-image grows with age. Self-image will continue to change in the coming years. This depends on the environment and how your child interacts with social media and comments from others. Giving your child a smartwatch with GPS allows them to explore the world independently while you as a parent can keep an eye on where your child is. This contributes to increased self-confidence.