• Significant decline (35 percent) in self-esteem, optimism, competence and positive emotions between kindergarten and Year 12.
    • 91 percent of kids in kindergarten feel optimistic, while only 50 percent of of students in Year 12 do.
    • Report also found that kids do value their relationships with parents.

03 February 2022 | A new report from iconic Australian breakfast brand Weet-Bix, part of Adventist-owned Sanitarium Health Food Company, has revealed that declining self-esteem is the biggest mental wellbeing issue facing Aussie kids, with one in five students already reporting negative self-esteem as they enter high school, reported Adventist Record.

Data uncovered by Forge Wellbeing in one of the biggest studies of its kind and released as part of The Weet-Bix Feed their Belief Report, found a significant decline (35 percent) in self-esteem, optimism, competence and positive emotions between Kindergarten and Year 12.

Mom of three and senior leader at the Sanitarium Health Food Company, Jessica Manihera, said, “Kids enter this world with limitless belief, an incredible superpower that fuels optimism, creativity, curiosity and courage. It helps our kids believe they can become anyone and do anything—they have no reason to believe that these dreams won’t come true.”

“Naturally, as we learn more about ourselves and the world around us, our dreams can change or falter. But what our ‘Weet-Bix Feed the Belief Report’ reveals is that self-belief is compromised too early in life by an increasing number of influences, and that is limiting the potential of the next generation to thrive,” she said.

Even before the pandemic, today’s youth faced significant challenges to their self-belief from social media, pop culture, academic and societal pressure, even global issues like climate change, said parenting expert and relationships speaker, author and researcher Justin Coulson. Plus, kids have to deal with all the changes from the physical and neurological development that are part of growing up.

Pulling on survey responses from more than 27,000 students, the report explores the current mindset amongst Australian children as they progress through school across eight key wellbeing domains: positive emotions, meaning, optimism, positive relationships, competence, engagement, self-esteem, and social contribution.

High school students averaged a lower rating in seven out of eight domains, compared to primary school students, with the report revealing a self-belief crisis with only half (50 per cent) of students in Year 12 feeling optimistic, compared to 70 percent of students in Year 7 and 91 percent of kids at kindergarten.

To guide parents and caregivers in helping feed belief in kids, Coulson provides six top tips:

  1. Inspire Self-esteem: foster key relationships with friends and parents, encourage a balanced lifestyle, build competence and strengths, and help develop a sense of familiarity at school.
  2. Spark Positive Emotions: help children develop a strong sense of identity and belonging whilst leaning to their strengths and offering them new opportunities to discover who they are.
  3. Fuel Engagement: support a child’s ideas, encourage them to try new things and promote autonomy. In addition, help them seek peers and mentors who share similar interests as them.
  4. Maintain Optimism: reduce pressure on our children and focus on enjoyment. It’s also beneficial to give kids something to look forward to, along with surrounding them with positive relationships.
  5. Encourage and demonstrate positive relationships: continue to encourage friendships in multiple contexts and demonstrate positive and respectful adult relationships.
  6. Healthy bodies, healthy minds: a healthy diet and an active lifestyle support physical health as well as mental wellbeing, so look out for opportunities to put these belief-building tips into practice in settings like family mealtimes, play, sport and other recreation activities.

“As a dad to six of my own children, I know how challenging it can be for kids as they progress through their teenage years. I’ve seen how self-belief can diminish and take with it a child’s potential. But we can support our children, with the insights in the Weet-Bix Feed their Belief Report demonstrating they value their relationship with us and that they benefit from our guidance in developing identity, self-esteem, optimism and resilience,” said Coulson.

Download the report at www.weetbix.com.au/feedthebelief .

This article has been edited by AT staff.

(Photo: A report by Weet-Bix found that negative self-esteem is the biggest mental wellbeing issue facing Australian kids. Photo via Adventist Record.)

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