Core Childhood Needs: Self-Appreciation

Updated: 7 days ago

Self-appreciation is essential for children to feel confident in themselves, be compassionate, be respectful toward themselves and others, and appreciate diversity in life. This is what makes children feel worthwhile and trust in themselves to be able to achieve and navigate challenges in life. It also fosters self-love.


Children who are rejected, belittled or punished for who they are, their personality, their intrinsic preferences, their sexual orientation, their appearance, or any other innate quality, can develop a form of self-rejection. They may believe that they are the problem or that they have no value and thus, are unworthy. Often, this is associated with withdrawal, people-pleasing or trying to go unnoticed. A pervasive self-dislike permeates all areas of people’s lives and people may get caught in various dysfunctional circumstances as a result, including substance and alcohol abuse, self-harm, tolerating abusive situations, avoiding close relationships, etc.


So what can we do as adults to help to fulfil the need for self-appreciation in our children?

Here are a few ideas:

· Assure your children that you appreciate them as who they are

· If your child has preferences or qualities that are uncomfortable for you, educate yourself on these first and identify what the issue is for you, before taking further steps; this particularly pertains to intrinsic qualities, such sexual orientation, gender, race, disability, and appearance, but also choices such as veganism, religion, environmental activism, career, and relationship status

· Differentiate between the person and the behaviour, i.e. “Your behaviour is unkind”, not “You are an unkind person”

· Ensure you are disciplining a behaviour that your child has control over, rather than punishing children for something they cannot control

· Actively teach children emotion regulation skills, mindfulness and empathy



Fulfilling the need of self-appreciation for our children can help them to be confident, caring, nurturing, and set appropriate boundaries on how others treat them. The need for self-appreciation remains relevant for us as adults. This is particularly the case, as we may have taken several blows to our self-appreciation as we grow older. While everyone always talks about self-love, we may blow this off with an eye-roll as a new-age hippie fairy-dust kind of thing.


While giving ourselves messages in the mirror about how we are "good enough" can be helpful, if we have grown up without self-appreciation, we will struggle to believe these words. However, regardless of our childhood, with the right tools, we are able to meet this need in adulthood without letting the past control us. The way we would treat children now, is the way we can also nurture our own inner child.


To find out more about how to help your children develop self-appreciation or to meet your own need for self-appreciation, book a consultation with Dr. Terrighena on (852) 2715 4577 or e.terrighena@mind-balance.org.

Dr Esslin Terrighena - Psychologist in Hong Kong

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