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5 Ways to Build Children’s Self-Esteem

child_overcome_negative_thinkingParents tend to forget about the importance of self-esteem in their children’s lives. Great intelligence or talent may not come to full fruition in adulthood if self-esteem is lacking. That’s why it’s important for parents to take action early in their kids’ lives to ensure a healthy dose of self-confidence and high self-esteem.

Here are five practical tips on how to build children’s self-esteem:

1. Don’t be afraid to step back. As a parent, your key responsibility is to help your children become competent and self-reliant. In order to do this, you need to step back and let your children experience failure and disappointment from time to time. Let your children take healthy risks and solve various problems on their own. Set realistic goals for your children. Once accomplished, recognize their achievement.

Let them make their own choices in age-appropriate areas. Help them understand that once they start to do something, they need to stick to it and complete the task. By letting your kids make their own decisions, you’ll also teach them about the consequences of their choices.

2. Praise, but don’t overpraise. Praising becomes a rather difficult issue when viewed from the perspective of developing self-esteem. On the one hand, children build their self-esteem from feelings of security and love. On the other hand, they also need to build a realistic understanding of their competencies and skills, something that takes time to build and perfect.

Compliments are important, but too many of them will become problematic. Overpraising children will eventually lower the bar for them, showing that they no longer need to push themselves to achieve better results through trial and failure.

Overpraising also can lead to another problem — kids acting in unnatural ways to look perfect or even too perfect all the time, constantly trying to achieve this particular standard.

3. Let your children help around the house. Children benefit from outlets that help them to express their competence and know-how. Assigning small tasks at home is a great strategy. It not only allows children to showcase their newfound skills, but also helps them realize that their contribution is valuable and appreciated by other household members. Ask them for help when cooking, cleaning or setting the table. You can even find tasks appropriate for toddlers.

4. Encourage them to find and pursue interests. As soon as you notice your children taking on a particular interest, try to assign tasks that they’ll naturally be happy to follow and complete. Whether it’s five laps of the swimming pool or a successful snowboard ride, you’ll show them that accomplishing a goal is a rewarding feeling. This gives them a sense of great accomplishment — a feeling that will inevitably come with a significant boost in self-esteem.

5. Criticize actions, not persons. Some parents tend to overpraise. Others are hypercritical. Constructive criticism is good, but needs to be delivered in the right way. Instead of criticizing the person by saying, “You’re a bad child,” try to take on a less personal approach and focus on the activity itself. Say, “You know I consider you a good child, so I think you shouldn’t engage in such activities.”

As a parent, you’ll have a huge impact on your child’s self-esteem. By using your influence in the right way during the first years of their lives, you’ll be more likely to set them on a path to grow into responsible, competent and confident adults.

5 Ways to Build Children’s Self-Esteem

Kelly Smith

Kelly Smith is a dedicated tutor and writer. Currently, she develops her passion at Career FAQs, one of the leading providers of career and educational resources in Australia, where she provides career advice for students and job seekers.

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APA Reference
Smith, K. (2018). 5 Ways to Build Children’s Self-Esteem. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 7 Feb 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.