Parents always want the best for each of their children. They hope to shower every one of them with many possessions and great opportunities. Yet one of the most important things that a parent can give to any child is the ability to believe in his or her own worth. Acquisition of this feeling is called self respect.
Within weeks after the birth of a child, parents should introduce those things that can help that child to acquire self respect. A simple first step could involve no more than placing a small mirror where the child can see it. Then the child would become familiar with his or her own face. The willingness on the part of any parent to help a child see the reflection of his or her own face says a great deal about that couple's eagerness to instill a feeling of self respect in that same child.
Later as that child attempts to sit-up, to crawl, to walk, to use utensils, to speak in words and eventually in sentences, the parents need to provide assistance and a show of appreciation. In that way the child will be rewarded for his or her efforts. In that way the child will again receive the needed encouragement for the development of self respect.
Parents can never know for sure whether or not their actions have imbued a child with a sense of self respect. However, the actions of the parents determine to a large extent the degree to which any child will develop some measure of self respect. This becomes especially important as the child enters the second year of life. This is a time when the child must learn the meaning of the word "no." It is a time when the parent becomes more concerned with directing the child's behavior.
Later the child will be expected to develop control of the bladder and bowels. This is most certainly a time when the child's effort needs to be rewarded. Such rewards serve as yet another marker along the child's path to greater self respect.
Self respect and self esteem go hand-in-hand. Parents can help with the development of both qualities by furnishing a child with confidence. Most often that feeling of confidence will stem from recognition of competence in a task attempted. Parents must encourage children to tackle new jobs and to learn new skills. Parental praise for a sincere effort on the part of the child helps to raise both self respect and self esteem.
Self respect develops within a child who feels that he or she has something to offer the family. The child must feel that his or her love has been acknowledged by the other family members, especially the parents. By the same token the child needs to feel that the parents are making a sincere attempt to share their love with their son or daughter. The parents need to demonstrate an eagerness to have close contact with the child. This is normally done by kissing and touching.
A greater degree of self respect will emerge as the child discovers that he or she has the ability to contribute to family life. Self respect acquired in childhood will continue in the adult once the adult individual finds that he or she has the ability to contribute to the world as well as to the family.