Children’s Self Esteem – A Parent’s Job

Currently, there is a new topic of discussion among parents: Should we focus on building self-esteem in children or not?  Fortunately, we have two great writers who will each touch on the subject.  Today, we have the brilliant Heather Ann, who will speak to us about the importance of building self-esteem in your children.  Come back on June 13th for a very thought-provoking flip side of the coin on this “hot” discussion.

As parents we have so many responsibilities. One that is often overlooked is helping our children build a strong self esteem. Yep, that falls under our parenting role also.

Kids who feel good about themselves have an easier time dealing with conflict and the pressures of life. They are happier, more optimistic, and are more likely to enjoy life. A healthy self esteem is also the greatest defense against bullying. Children with positive self esteems are more assertive, feel in control of their lives, and know how to stand up for themselves. They are more confident in making their own decisions, believe in their abilities and maintain healthy relationships as they get older.

Kids with low self esteem feel that challenges can bring frustration and anxiety. They also find themselves constantly battling feelings of not being good enough, or unable to do anything correctly. This can lead to depression and passive withdrawal behavior. Low self esteem also leads to behavioral problems. It has negative effects on their school performance, friendships, and adults relationships.

This doesn’t mean we sit our kids down and say “Today we are going to increase your self esteem”. Or we tell them things that aren’t true to make them feel good. Instead we raise them in ways that give them confidence, and strengthen their belief in themselves.

How can we help our kids increase their self-esteem? Here are some suggestions.

Be Careful With What We Say – Our kids are very sensitive to the things we say. 90% of what we say should be uplifting. The other 10% can be disciplinary. We need to praise our children not only for the things they do well, and get right, but also for all the effort they put into what they do.

Be a Good Role Model – If we are always putting ourselves down, and saying negative things about our abilities, we will raise children who feel the same way. We need to be good role models and speak positively about who we are, what we look like, and the effort we are putting in to our own lives.

Create a Safe Home Environment – Our kids have to feel safe at home. Watching parents fight and argue makes for depressed children. When children bring home problems from school, express concerns and ask questions, we need to be patient and listen. They need to always know they can express themselves at home and they will be respected and cared for.

Provide Challenges For Our Children – We have to provide challenges for our children, that they can overcome. When they overcome small challenges, it builds their belief in themselves. They take those beliefs into new situations and feel strong about their ability to do hard things. This is a post in and of itself. We had a great experience with our son and challenges. I will have to share it next time.

Focus on Our Child – Play with them, listen to them, don’t multitask. As mother’s we are trying to juggle so many things while we listen to our kids. We need to put everything down and come down to their level. Look them in the eye and make sure we are in the moment. Kids know when we are pretending to pay attention, but our minds are else where.

Teach Our Children How to Handle Conflict and Failure – Life is full of conflict and we all have to deal with failure. We need to teach our children how to deal with these hard things. It will empower them. They need to know that it doesn’t make them lesser of a person.

Set Our Children Up For Success – Help your child develop talents and acquire skills that they enjoy and excel in. Provide opportunities for them to participate in activities that encourage cooperation instead of competition.

Don’t Set Our Children Up To Fail – Embarrassing our children to “teach” them will not help them feel better about themselves. Imposing unrealistic expectations and challenges so they fail will not make them fell better about themselves either.

Stop Labeling Our Children – All of us are searching for an identity. It defines us and helps us relate to other people and figure out where we belong. Our kids will live up to our labels, good or bad, we need to be careful.

Give Positive and Accurate Feedback – Comments like “You always get so angry”, will make our kids feel like they have no control over their emotions. Instead, say, “You were really mad at your sister, thank you for not hitting her.” This way you have acknowledged their feelings, rewarded the good choice they made, and encouraged them to make the right choice again next time.

Show Love – Always do all things out of love. Be attentive, show affection and when there is need for discipline, always follow with an increase of love. Withholding love should never be used as punishment or as a result of a child’s mistake. Never withhold love.

We cannot underestimate our influence on our children. They look to us for all things. How wonderful to know that we can help them believe in themselves. We can help them build positive thoughts and feelings about their abilities. Starting young will make their lives more manageable and set them up to be strong and adjusted adults.

What an important job we have.


  1. […] You Shouldn’t Build Up Self-Esteem in Children Last month, Heather Ann spoke of the importance of building self-esteem in children.  In Part 2 of our 2-part series, Kimberlee will discuss why that shouldn’t be our focus and […]

  2. […] also build self confidence which is one of the best defenses against bullying. Want more tips on building your child’s self confidence? Let kids work things out on their own. As parents we can be very quick to step in and stop the […]

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