Why Self-Esteem Matters

"Kids who feel good about themselves have the confidence to try new things. They are more likely to try their best. They feel proud of what they can do. Self-esteem helps kids cope with mistakes. It helps kids try again, even if they fail at first. As a result, self-esteem helps kids do better at school, at home, and with friends.

Kids with low self-esteem feel unsure of themselves. If they think others won't accept them, they may not join in. They may let others treat them poorly. They may have a hard time standing up for themselves. They may give up easily, or not try at all. Kids with low self-esteem find it hard to cope when they make a mistake, lose, or fail. As a result, they may not do as well as they could."


Parent Self-Esteem

The first place to start in boosting your child's self-esteem is taking a look at your own self-image. Kids learn far more through the actions they see than the words they hear. You modeling a positive regard for self is really the best teacher out there. Don't simply pretend to have a positive self-image or try to pretend you are perfect. By modeling mistakes and being open with your struggles, you can model to kids that it's ok to make mistakes. Then, they'll be more likely to takes challenges head on and know how to cope when they run into conflict.

How to Build Self-Esteem in Children

Your Child's Self-Esteem

  1. Help your child learn to do things. At every age, there are new things for kids to learn. Even during babyhood, learning to hold a cup or take first steps sparks a sense of mastery and delight. As your child grows, things like learning to dress, read, or ride a bike are chances for self-esteem to grow.

  2. When teaching kids how to do things, show and help them at first. Then let them do what they can, even if they make mistakes. Be sure your child gets a chance to learn, try, and feel proud. Don't make new challenges too easy — or too hard.

  3. Praise your child, but do it wisely. Of course, it's good to praise kids. Your praise is a way to show that you're proud. But some ways of praising kids can actually backfire.

  4. Be a good role model. When you put effort into everyday tasks (like raking the leaves, making a meal, cleaning up the dishes, or washing the car), you're setting a good example. Your child learns to put effort into doing homework, cleaning up toys, or making the bed.

  5. Ban harsh criticism. The messages kids hear about themselves from others easily translate into how they feel about themselves. Harsh words ("You're so lazy!") are harmful, not motivating. When kids hear negative messages about themselves, it harms their self-esteem. Correct kids with patience. Focus on what you want them to do next time. When needed, show them how.

  6. Focus on strengths. Pay attention to what your child does well and enjoys. Make sure your child has chances to develop these strengths. Focus more on strengths than weaknesses if you want to help kids feel good about themselves. This improves behavior too.

  7. Let kids help and give. Self-esteem grows when kids get to see that what they do matters to others. Kids can help out at home, do a service project at school, or do a favor for a sibling. Helping and kind acts build self-esteem and other good feelings.

For the full KidsHealth article, click here.

7 Ways To Address Your Child's Negative Self-Talk

By Ashley Cullins

One of the most difficult things for parents to hear is their child putting herself down or saying things like, “I can’t do this because I’m dumb,” or “He doesn’t want to be my friend because I’m stupid.” These statements, connected to low self-esteem, are very damaging. And if left unchecked, they can take a huge toll on a child’s self-worth.

Knowing HOW TO respond to your child when she says negative things about herself is important. You can help her SHIFT the focus from negativity to her abilities and potential. Modeling growth mindset in front of your child is one of the important ways that you can help to lessen that line of thinking.

If you find your child putting herself down using negative self-talk, use these strategies to help her:

To read the full article, click here.

Teaching Assertiveness

"If you want to raise strong and confident kids, teaching assertiveness is key. Assertive children know how to stand up for themselves (and others) without being hurtful or mean. They can say 'no,' communicate clearly, and maintain positive relationships that meet their own needs as well as those of others."

“Assertiveness works in all situations, giving kids guidelines for navigating everything from the playground to the slumber party. It helps kids have healthy relationships and a solid self-esteem.”

-Margarita Tartakovsky, psychologist

5 Steps For Raising Assertive Kids (Big Life Journal Article)

Promoting grit and a growth mindset in children has also been found to boost self-esteem. For more information on how to do this, visit the "Grit and Growth Mindset" page under the Social Emotional Resources section.

For read-alouds about self-esteem and self-acceptance, visit the "Books" page under the Students section.