Kids (4-12)

Building Your Child’s Self-Esteem

We were all young once – we remember what it was like to go through stages in our adolescence where we felt uncomfortable in our own bodies and unsure of our own abilities. Think back to what it was that got you through those times… it was your self-esteem. Without self-esteem, we would never have left those traumatic years behind. Now think back to what gave you that self-esteem… most likely you had a close mentor – a parent, friend or guardian, who encouraged you and made you feel beautiful, strong and confident – even when you didn’t think you were.

Without a doubt, your child will at some point in their childhood struggle with self-esteem. And this lack of confidence in themselves is something that will affect every aspect of their lives – their ability to perform well in school, the degree to which they enjoy their free time, and most importantly, the person they grow up to be. That is why you, as their mother, must be aware of their struggles with self-image and do everything you can do help with building self esteem. Because if you don’t, it’s very possible that no one else will.

Know the Causes

Many things influence self-esteem, such as:

  1. Criticism from family members
  2. Difficulties in the classroom, academically or socially
  3. Bullies or cliques
  4. Moving to a new school or neighborhood
  5. Discontent with physical appearance
  6. Puberty

Know the Signs

Self-esteem fluctuates as children mature. Signs that your child may need a self-esteem boost include:

  • Reluctance to try new things
  • Negative comments such as “I’m stupid,” “I’m ugly,” “Nobody cares about me,” or “I can’t do anything.”
  • Becoming frustrated easily
  • Frequent disappointment in themselves
  • Lack of initiative or perseverance – giving up on things too quickly.
  • Regarding temporary setbacks as permanent
  • Pessimism

What You Can Do

You can give your child some eSTEEM by:

1. Using lots of encouraging words. Never underestimate the power of a kind word. Click herefor  a list of phrases to encourage your child.

2. Setting an example of healthy self-esteem. Nurture your own self-esteem. Be positive!

3. Knowing your child. Assess your child’s self-esteem. If you find it lacking, identify where the lack of confidence might be coming from and redirect your child’s thinking by correcting their inaccurate beliefs and emphasizing their positive attributes.

4. Being spontaneous and affectionate. Be excited when they do something! This does not mean just when they do something well; be excited when they try something new. Hug, kiss and tell them you’re proud of them often.

5. Creating a safe, loving home. Everyone has bad days out in the world. Make sure to welcome your child when they come home. Encourage them and nurture them when they walk in the door. Make home a place where they can go to get a little eSTEEM.

Seek Professional Advice

If you find that your child is unresponsive to your efforts to build their confidence, talk to your school guidance counselor or pediatrician.


© 2011 iMOM. All Rights Reserved. Family First, All Pro Dad, iMOM, and Family Minute with Mark Merrill are registered trademarks.


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  • Mommy23

    Sooooo needed this! Thank you Michelle Dugger for being so willing to put herself out there as a human (not perfect) example. She doesn’t try to act like she has it all figured out perfectly. She is so gracious and non-judgemental. Thank you Susan Merrill so much from a mom who also tends to have a bit of a temper and gets weary and frustrated at times. We are fighting the good fight though.

  • Tosin A.

    When angry whisper. That needs to be my daily mantra as a mother. *takes deep breathe*

  • Jenna Sears

    Great suggestions– I especially enjoy the idea of whispering– not sure how they are ever going to hear me, but I’m going to give it a try! “Soft Spoken Parenting” by Dr. Wally Goddard promotes similar ideals for parenting. Thanks for the reminder to show more love!

  • cdl5555

    This is ridiculous. I realize that times are changing, but let go of the umbilical cord mom’s! Yes, get to know the parents, Yes, have a way to communicate with your child when they’d like to come home. That’s all great, but seriously, “g-rated movies” and “computer filters” and then you lump that in with “don’t micromanage”. A little contradicting? Let them go, see how they do, and assess if you should do that again.. Go with the flow. Children connect best with someone approachable, not the mom handing out rules like M&M’s