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How to Help Your Child Build Self Esteem


Having healthy self esteem is vital to a child’s health, happiness, and future success as an adult.

As a parent, you play a vital role in developing your child’s self esteem. There are many simple and even fun strategies you can incorporate into your daily interactions with your child to build their self esteem naturally.

Show them your love is unconditional

Children need to know their parents have unconditional love and support for them. Make it clear that you love them, even when they make poor decisions or mistakes.

When they misbehave, it’s important to label the behavior and not the child. So, for example, if a child were to hit their sibling, instead of saying, “you were a bad boy,” you would label the action. You could say, “You were feeling angry at your brother, so you hit him. But hitting hurts, and it made your brother sad. Let’s take a break, calm down, and try again.”

As they get older, make sure it’s clear to your child that everyone makes mistakes or makes bad decisions but it doesn’t make them a bad person. Offer constructive criticism and consequences and allow them to learn from their mistakes.

Focus on building your own self esteem

You are your child’s best role model. If you feel you suffer from low self esteem, you need to take steps to heal yourself. Start by being conscious of the things you say about yourself in front of your child. If you model genuine positive self talk and self love, your child will learn from you. Your kids also learn from your actions and will benefit from watching you confront personal challenges.

Spend quality time together

When you spend quality time with your child and give them your attention, you send the message that your child has value. Find things you enjoy doing together, such as playing games, spending time outdoors, or sharing meals together as a family. If you find you are on your computer or phone a lot due to work or social media, make sure to set aside time when the technology is off and your full attention is on them.

Play with them to build self esteem

Children love it when their parents join in their play. But it’s even better when the child can lead the play and see their parent’s enjoyment. You show your child that you not only like spending time with them, but you like their ideas, and it makes them feel important and accomplished.

Give them age-appropriate tasks

When you give your child responsibilities to help the family, it gives them a sense of competence, builds skills, and shows them they can make valuable contributions. Even very young kids can be given “special jobs” around the house. For example, young children can wash vegetables, pick up toys, and fold towels. Older children can wash dishes, feed the pet, fold clothes, or learn recipes that they can make independently to feed the family.

Encourage their interests and talents

When kids find an activity they like and are good at it, they gain confidence in themselves. That confidence can carry over into other areas that may be new to them and give them the self esteem boost they need to try something new. Create opportunities for your child to try activities, such as music, arts, or sports that interest them. Show your support and encourage their efforts.

Give positive feedback and praise

Everyone likes to hear that they did a good job. Recognizing when your child does something right or made a good choice will help not only reinforce positive behavior but it will instill a healthy sense of pride. It’s important to praise not just accomplishments but also praise their efforts. For example after a soccer game, you’d say, “You played really great today, and I’m seeing all your hard work at practice pay off.” Just make sure your praise is genuine and don’t overpraise to the point that it feels insincere. Your child also needs to hear constructive feedback and not just endless praise so they can copy with criticism and challenges as they mature.

Ask for Help

If you feel that your child’s self esteem is affecting their behavior or mental health and need help, please contact your provider at Pediatrics West at (720) 284-3700. We can help guide you or connect you with one of the clinicians from Jefferson Center for Mental Health who works onsite in our office.

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