Building Your Child’s Self-Esteem


Parents, more than anyone else can promote our child’s self-esteem. You might be doing it without even realizing that your words and actions have a significant impact on how your child feels about himself/herself.


Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Positive feelings they bring out in you.

    Parents are often quick to express negative feelings to children but somehow don’t get around to describing the positive. A child doesn’t know when you are feeling good about them. Your child needs to hear you tell them that you like having them in your family. Children remember positive statements we say to them. They store them up and “replay” these statements to themselves. Practice giving your child words of encouragement throughout each day.

  • Be generous with praise.

    Use what is called descriptive praise to let your child know when they are doing something well. You must of course become in the habit of looking for situations in which your child is doing a good job or displaying a talent. Don’t be afraid to give praise often even in front of family or friends, however, be mindful. Also, use praise to point out positive character traits. You can even praise a child for something he did not do (e.g., “exploding” in an angry outburst).

  • Teach your child to practice making positive self-statements.

    Self-talk is very important in everything we do. Child Psychologists have found that negative self-talk underlies depression and anxiety symptoms. What we think determines how we feel and how we feel determines how we behave. Therefore, it is important to teach children to be positive about how they “talk to themselves.”

  • Avoid criticism that takes the form of ridicule or shame.

    Sometimes it is necessary to criticize a child’s actions, and it is appropriate that parents do so. However, when the criticism is directed to the child as a person, it can easily deteriorate into ridicule or shame. It is important to learn to use “I statements” rather than “You statements” when giving criticism.

  • Teach your child about decision-making and to recognize when he/she has made a good decision.

    Children make decisions all the time but often are not aware that they are doing so. There are a number of ways parents can help children improve their ability to consciously make wise decisions, such as:

    • Help the child clarify the problem that is creating the need for a decision. Ask him questions that pinpoint how he sees, hears, and feels about a situation and what may need to be changed.
    • Brainstorm the possible solutions. Usually, there is more than one solution or choice to a given dilemma, and the parent can make an important contribution by pointing out this fact and by suggesting alternatives if the child has none.
    • Allow the child to choose one of the solutions only after careful consideration of all the consequences. The best solution will be one that solves the problem and simultaneously makes the child feel good about himself or herself.
    • Later join the child in evaluating the results of that particular solution. Did it work out well? Or did it fail? if so, why? Reviewing the tactics will equip the child to make a better decision the next time around.
  • Develop a positive approach to providing structure for your child.

    All kids and teens need to accept responsibility for their behaviour. They should learn self-discipline. To help children learn self-discipline, we parents need to adopt the roles of coach/teacher rather than that of disciplinarian and punisher. Practice the “Three Fs” of positive parenting (Firm, Fair, and Friendly).