How To Help Kids Build Self-Esteem

Jan 29, 2024

Do you know where to start if you want to help your child build their self-esteem?

Most parents know that helping kids develop healthy self-esteem is important, but if you’re like I was — you are so busy just keeping up with life and raising kids that you never really put much thought into the impact of self-esteem and how you can help your child build healthy self-esteem.

I bring this up because self-esteem impacts everything.  It affects how we think, how we feel, how we behave, and how we care for ourselves, others, and our kids.  When it’s positive, we’re more confident and resilient.  We’re able to handle all of the ups and downs we experience in our lives, and more quickly recover from any challenges we face.

When someone has a lower self-esteem they’re more insecure and have a harder time managing adversity and dealing with the disappointments that naturally happen in life.  They tend to compare themselves to others, being overly critical and looking for all the areas they don’t measure up.

As parents and caregivers, we don’t want our kids to have low self-esteem — but how do we help them develop healthy self-esteem?  If this is something you want to work on, I recommend starting with YOU and what you’re modeling for your kids.

I encourage you to reflect on how you handle making a mistake.  Do you tend to feel ashamed and embarrassed, talk unkindly to yourself, and have a hard time letting it go?  If you do this you may have been raised in a house where mistakes weren’t tolerated.  In households like this, mistakes were pointed out, and kids who made mistakes were given harsh consequences.  Instead of being allowed to learn, grow, and do better — they were shamed and shunned instead.

Please note that this is not criticizing any parents.  I truly believe parents do the best they can with what they know at the time and from what they learned growing up.  But I also believe in learning more, because when you know better you do better.

Consider that you can break old patterns by looking at mistakes as an opportunity for our kids (and ourselves) to learn, and get curious instead of furious.
What did your child learn from the mistake?
How can they repair any damage that was done or feelings that were hurt?  (this is the consequence)
What can they do differently next time?

Next, look for opportunities where you can let your kids make their own decisions.
What clothes do they want to wear, what foods do they want to eat, what toys do they want to play with or what activities do they want to do, and where and when do they do their homework?

When we give our kids more autonomy and control in their own lives, it increases their pride and sense of self-esteem.  It also increases their self-regulation.  The earlier we get our kids involved in making decisions for themselves, the more self-esteem and resilience they develop.

Finally, I recommend that you give your child a safe place to discuss their feelings where they feel seen and heard.  This gives them the sense that someone cares about their feelings and that they matter.  If a child’s feelings are dismissed, ignored, or talked away — children learn to ignore or discount how they feel in the future.  They won’t feel worthy of having their own feelings if they’re not given a space to actually have them.

Instead of telling your child there’s no reason to be angry, nervous, or upset, acknowledge that those are normal feelings to have and give them space to talk about them.

This is a great place to start — and if you want to know more about how you can help build and foster healthy self-esteem in your kids, please join us in the Confident Parenting Club this month!  We’re doing a deep dive on building self-esteem and resilience, strategies for when your kids fail at something, how to combat negative self-talk and help your kids tame the self-talk monster, and what to do and say when your kids compare themselves to other kids and find themselves coming up short.  Click here to join the Club!

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