Building High Self-Esteem in Your Child
By Michael Grose
Children's self-esteem influences their social behaviour and learning.
Children with low self-esteem are less likely to step out of their comfort
zones to extend themselves and try new experiences. They tend to take
fewer risks than those with healthy level of self-esteem.
Misbehaving children are generally discouraged children. Lacking
confidence to belong through positive ways they find their place within
their family and peer group through misbehaviour.
Quite simply if children have a healthy level of esteem and feel good
about themselves they are more likely to make friends and succeed at pre
school and at school.
But what is self-esteem and how do children acquire it? Self-esteem
refers to the image or picture of ourselves that each of us carries around
in our heads. This image or picture is constructed through our experiences
and is strongly influenced by the messages that others send. The way we
interact with children on a daily basis influences the positive picture
that they construct of themselves. Let them know through our language and
our behaviour that they are capable and worthwhile and they will begin to
believe it. The messages we send to children influences the way they see
themselves as well as our relationship with them.
For parents the essential question is: What type of self image are you
helping your children to construct?
While children have countless experiences in settings outside their
home and receive messages from many sources including their peers parents
have a huge influence on the way children see themselves. In fact, when
children are very young their sense of self is linked to their parents so
a parent's self-esteem is obviously important a determinant in a child's
Children with a healthy level of self-esteem generally:
- feel worthwhile (and lovable)
- believe that they are capable
- extend themselves as learners
Following are some ideas that adults can use to promote self-esteem in
1. Build on children's strengths. Point out to children their areas of
expertise. This is often difficult with young children, but as they
progress through primary school they have more options for success
2. Give kids realistic responsibility. Develop self-help skills from an
3. Develop the courage to be imperfect. Let them know that mistakes are
part of learning. Ask any golfer.
4. Encourage sensible risk-taking. Help them to develop the attitude
that anything is possible.
5. Establish an achievement board or corner in your house or
6. Develop a strong language of encouragement that focuses on effort,
improvement, their contribution and displays your confidence in their
ability to succeed.
7. Stick positive affirmations around the house. Use them
8. Tell children how you handled difficult situations in your life.
This is extremely reaffirming for kids.
9. Ask children's opinions on important family matters. It shows you
value their input.
10. Mirror back a positive self-image or picture.
11. Self esteem comes from achieving success in high-risk areas so help
them achieve in an area such as public speaking or drama.
12. Look for small victories or achievements and celebrate them.
13. Provide them with opportunities to take risks and make
14. Remind kids that we only grow and improve when we take risks.
15. Help children set goals and stick to them.
16. Write letters or notes of appreciation. Leave notes under the
pillow, in lunch-boxes or on the computer in e-mail.
17. Help kids accept responsibility for their own actions and their own
18. Give objective feedback but begin with a strength or
19. Compare them only to themselves.
20. Teach them how to reframe problems or see a situation from a
About the author: Michael Grose is a parenting and
work-life balance specialist who always makes good sense. Michael helps parents
raise happy, confident kids and resilient young people, through his parenting
courses, seminars, keynote presentations, books and articles. Visit his website