How to Build a Child’s Self-Esteem

What Self-Esteem Means?

Self-esteem represents how we feel about ourselves. Healthy evaluation of self-worth is closely entwined with self-love and self-acceptance. Therefore, having a strong sense of own worth can encourage a child’s confidence (faith in themselves and their abilities) and independence. In addition, it can help them recognize and manage emotions, learn from mistakes, and cope with challenges.

What Causes Low Self Esteem?

Many factors contribute to a child’s self-esteem. However, some of the most common causes of low self-esteem include the child’s relationship with parents and caregivers, family problems and abuse, bullying, social media and peer pressures, and body image issues.

Self-esteem is vital for good mental health and happy life. Conversely, children with low self-esteem tend to feel unloved and unfitting, always doubting their skills, knowledge, and appearance.

Such self-limiting beliefs can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Also, low self-esteem can bear upon how your child develops and maintains their adolescent and adult relationships.

Fortunately, there are many effective strategies to build confidence and self-esteem in children. Below are some tips on how to teach your children self-love.


1. Use Positive Reinforcement

    Positive reinforcement can be an excellent strategy to boost a child’s self-worth and self-esteem.

    Most effective positive reinforcement strategies involve encouragement and praise. However, psychologists agree that encouragement is more effective because it doesn’t include any judgment (while praise does).

    Encouragement is often described as praise for effort. So, instead of praising your child’s intelligence or skills, acknowledge and admire their efforts. Also, be descriptive to help the child understand which aspect of their behavior was successful.

    For example, instead of using generic praise such as, “You are a good boy,” say something like, “I am so proud of the way you handled that conflict on the playground.”

    Encouragement promotes intrinsic motivation, nurturing a growth mindset, and fostering the child’s sense of self-worth.

    2. Never Criticize a Child’s Personality

      When you disapprove of a child, make sure to focus on the situation and their behavior rather than criticizing their personality.

      While constructive criticism is healthy, disapproval directed to a child’s personality can trigger feelings of shame, insecurity, and self-doubt.

      For example, instead of saying, “You are so irresponsible!” choose: “You need to behave more responsibly about your homework.”


      3. Encourage Independence

        Help your child explore their interests and take safe risks. This will promote a sense of identity and individuality.

        Also, encourage children to participate in activities they enjoy and are good at, such as sports, arts, or any other activity they like. These can be powerful confidence building activities for kids.

        Show your child that you value their opinion by allowing them to express their thoughts and feelings assertively and confidently. Encourage kids to make their own age-appropriate decisions as taking responsibility for their choices will boost your child’s confidence and self-esteem.

        4. Promote a Growth Mindset

          Children with a growth mindset learn to see their mistakes as opportunities for learning, believing that their skills and intelligence can improve with effort.

          Research shows kids and teenagers who are growth-oriented have better resilience and stronger self-esteem. In addition, they tend to be curious and focused on learning.

          Such a mindset can build confidence and self-esteem, helping the child develop a healthy intimate evaluation of their own self-worth.


          Writer: Natasha Tanic

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