Building Your Child’s Self-Esteem and Confidence


Self-esteem, or feeling confident or capable in one’s own abilities, is an important trait children develop as they grow. Having high self-esteem may help children feel happier and become more resilient to everyday challenges. A child with high self-esteem may believe more in their abilities to overcome difficulties and the confidence can act to protect from negative effects of bullying or difficulties in school.

As a parent and caregiver you can help provide opportunities for your child to build up their self-esteem and confidence. Provide your child with activities to learn they are capable, creative, strong, brave, etc.

Here are some things you can do to help your child build positive self-esteem:

  1. Think about the way you praise your child. You may find yourself saying “good job” when your child does something worthy of your praise. Using the phrase “good job” too often may make your child rely on forms of outside approval, rather than feeling good about themselves. Instead, try to rephrase your praise to focus on what they “did” not what they “are” for example saying, “you worked so hard on that drawing!”. You may want to also ask them if they are proud of themselves.
  2. Allow your child to fail. You may find it hard to see your child face difficulties, but it is important to let them work through age-appropriate challenges without intervening. If you believe you need to intervene, ask your child questions or lightly give suggestions to help them problem solve. Experiences of failure or working through something difficult act as opportunities for growth.
  3. Respond positively to mistakes. It is important to be supportive of your child by providing them with unconditional love. When your child makes mistakes, it is important to exercise patience by supporting them. Treating them this way may help them overcome negative feelings around making mistakes, leading to increased confidence.
  4. Give your child choices. When possible, allow your child to make choices and provide their opinion in your family’s day-to-day life. Allowing children to speak up about their needs and preferences teaches them to trust their own voice and opinions.

Using these tips, as well as other methods to build your child’s self-esteem, may help to create a healthy family environment, while teaching your child that they can overcome difficult circumstances. These experiences may help your child become a confident, successful person, as they grow up. For more suggestions on building your child’s confidence visit the Child Mind Institute.

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