Building Child Self Esteem

Building child self esteem is the most important role of a parent. It tops all the activities you choose for your children, the schools you enroll them into, the places you live and so forth.

You are the whole world for your baby and growing child. Research has shown that the first three years of a child’s life are the most crucial for developing a child’s self esteem and his sense of whether he or she will be successful in life.

As a parent, you are your child’s source of comfort and security, the banisher of her fears and pain. Every waking hour, your young child learns about himself from you. You are the mirror that shows this new person who she is.

From your smile a child learns acceptance. From your touch, safety. From your response to his cries, a sense of importance. These are the building blocks for child self esteem.

As children grow older, building child self esteem also occurs from relatives, teachers and friends. But your child will return to you as a parent for her sense of goodness, importance and basic worth.

If you want to build your own self esteem in order for building child self esteem, check out emotional intelligence to improve your emotional groundedness.

If you have fears, anxieties or feelings of helplessness left over from your own early years, begin your own growth and healing with the support you’ll find on this site.

Also check out self esteem exercises and self esteem activities for lots of helpful tools, strategies, information and support.

Go to Child Self Esteem for more top tips on developing a nurturing environment for your children.



Building Child Self Esteem

Developing the good habits that lead to happiness and fulfillment for your child begins at birth. The three routes to your child’s happiness and positive self esteem are for him to learn how to —
  • enjoy life — to play and have fun
  • be engaged with people and the world
  • find meaning in life — to be a part of something bigger than himself or herself
How to Help Your Child Enjoy Life

Building child self esteem does not come from the toys and candy you buy or the TV you allow your child to watch. Think back to your own childhood. What made you happy? More likely than not, it was your mom or dad reading a book to you, or playing a game with you or planting seeds with you in a garden.

My happiest times were Sundays when my Dad wasn’t working. The four of us, my Mom, Dad and sister would go for drives into the country, go skiing or just go for walks. We lived in Montreal, not too far from St. Joseph’s Oratory. Sometimes my dad and I would walk part way up the 283 steps from the street level to the basilica. These were special times because we were doing things together.

The pleasure I felt definitely didn’t come from material things. Pleasure rarely does. Positive human interaction brings pleasure and this important connection is responsible for building child self esteem.

Building Child Self Esteem Through Touch
  • hug your child
  • stoke his hair
  • hold her hands
  • give him a comfort blanket
  • tickle gently
Building Child Self Esteem Through Taste
  • licking the cake bowl
  • sandwiches at the beach or on a picnic
  • peas fresh from shelling
  • watermelon on a hot summer day
  • chili after skiing
Building Child Self Esteem Through Sound
  • favorite stories heard over and over again
  • thunderstorms in the safety of home
  • nursery rhymes
  • words of praise
  • whistling a tune or singing in the shower
Building Child Self Esteem Through Smell
  • freshly cut flowers
  • a roast in the oven
  • popcorn
  • grass just cut
  • the scent of pine along a hiking trail
Building Child Self Esteem Through Sight
  • a rainbow
  • familiar painting
  • a gold star beside you child’s name
  • family photos
These will give you ideas for more pleasures that your child will remember forever.

How to Engage With Your Child

Use your own strengths to become engaged with your child. Think about the last school project your child brought home.
  • How did you react?
  • What did you first notice about his or her work?
  • How did you respond to the mark?
  • How did you talk about the project with your child?
A positive parent takes a balanced view with a situation and looks for ways to put things right. It’s easy when you feel stretched for time in all directions to give a quick response to a proud child with project in hand.

Here’s a scenario. “Look mom, I got a B+ in my bridge construction project.” A well-meaning but unproductive response might sound like, “Very nice. Well done.”

A more engaged parenting response could sound like this, “That’s a solid mark. Let me see how you put the bridge together. Do you remember what the marks were based on? If you wanted a higher mark, what changes would you have to make?”

The more in tune you are with your child’s wishes hopes and dreams, the more you play with your child, sit next to him and listen carefully to the things he are talking about, the more you and your child will be engaged and building child self esteem.

Later on, during the challenging teen years, you and your child will have open lines of communication. You child will stay attached to you and not become peer attached — excluding you from her inner circle.

How to Help Your Child Find Meaning in Life

Meaning involves having a sense of something greater than yourself. Schools encourage children to consider issues beyond their immediate lives — subjects such as global warming, recycling, hunger and distribution of the world’s resources.

When children understand the challenges faced by other peoples around the globe and the world problems created by the developed world, they will move out of their own small world to make a difference in the wider community.

The more kids develop compassion for others, the more they help others, the more meaning they will bring into their own lives. Some ideas for helping your child find meaning in life —
  • raise money for a worthy cause
  • work for a charity with your child
  • send gifts to needy children at Christmas or other holidays
  • help out at a food bank
  • support a local sport’s team
  • engage with the residents in a community seniors home with your child
  • encourage your child to donate a portion of earned money to a charity

Building Child Self Esteem by Recognizing the Best in Each Other

Unfortunately it happens that family members take each other for granted. Some families don’t communicate much or offer praise to each other.

Sometimes parents value humility and don’t want their children to show obvious pride in their accomplishments. No one likes a braggart. But kids need to feel proud of their successes. You cuddle and stroke your babies. Your older children need stroking too. If they don’t get positive affirmations from you, they could begin attention seeking behavior.

Examples of Positive Stroking for Building Child Self Esteem

  • giving compliments and praise
  • using a positive tone of voice
  • smiling
  • honoring birthdays
  • hugging
  • patting the shoulder
  • taking time to listen

Examples of Negative Stroking in Hurting Child Self Esteem

  • using an angry tone of voice
  • judging and criticizing
  • being in too much of a hurry to listen
  • being condescending
  • not acknowledging your child’s feelings

Ten Results of Building Child Self Esteem

With a loving attachment with you, your child generally will —
  • have emotional intelligence
  • believe in personal success and capability
  • have higher earnings as an adult
  • be socially competent
  • value other’s beliefs and differences
  • enjoy happiness
  • have a positive outlook on life
  • have fewer anxiety problems
  • feel confident
  • have more satisfying relationships with partners
As a good parent, review your own behaviors as you raise your children. Test the outcomes and if a tactic isn’t working, change your approach. Seek help if you are stumped.

More Ideas for Building Child Self Esteem

  1. Tell the truth as much as possible even when you learn something that isn’t pleasant. When you tell the truth, you give your child the courage to tell her truth.
  2. Let your child know how proud you are of him. Tell him that you love him for who he is. Let him know that perfection is not important. Believing in himself is. Avoid hoping that your child will be successful in areas where you might not have been.
  3. Keep your promises. If you aren’t sure you can honor a promise, don’t make it. A large part of building child self esteem is building trust.
  4. Communicate changes in your family with your child. Allow her to express thoughts and feelings around the changes. Pay attention to what your child is saying. Show that you respect and appreciate her honesty and courage to talk. Try to relieve your child’s worries and fears.
  5. Allow your child to learn from his mistakes without feeling a sense of failure. Motivate and encourage your child to take reasonable risks.
  6. Help your child to stand up for herself. If someone is mistreating your child let her know you will always be there to protect her.
  7. Prepare your child for independence. Teach him how to handle life’s set-backs. Encourage persistence and a sense of pride.
  8. Teach your child to respect diversity in others.
  9. Encourage positive self-talk. Help your children to value their positive characteristics.
  10. Remind your children of their strengths. Help them use these personal assets to grow and develop.
  11. Create opportunities for giving back to those less fortunate. Help your child understand compassion for others by modeling compassion yourself.
  12. Help your child understand and honor the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Building Child Self Esteem Through Your Words

Ways to Say “Very good” to your Child
  • I love it!
  • Great!
  • Can I tell someone else about what you’ve done?
  • You must be so proud of yourself!
  • Your best yet.
  • Good idea.
  • You’re a star.
  • Let’s put this up for everyone to see.
  • Keep up the good work.
  • You did this all by yourself?
  • You are so good at this.
  • I love the way you worked that out.
  • Incredible!
  • You made it look so easy.
  • Well done.
  • Wow!
  • I can really rely on you.
  • I really like the way you thought that through.
  • Thanks for trying so hard.
  • Fantastic!
  • I couldn’t have done it better myself.
  • Maybe you can teach me how to do this.
  • What makes you happiest about what you did?
  • Such nimble fingers.
  • I love your sense of humor.
  • How did you do that?
  • You’re an inspiration.
  • You only feel off your bike once?
Give your child praise where praise is due. If your child recognizes that your praise is hollow, he will devalue your words. If you see room for improvement in his behavior, don’t ignore it. Address it. This is an example of parenting with integrity.

Words and Expressions to Avoid in Building Child Self Esteem

Avoid using words that — criticize, demotivate, cause shame or embarrassment, belittle or show disrespect for things that are important to your child.
  • You will never be able to… .
  • You’re not smart enough… .
  • You will never… .
  • You can’t… .
  • You won’t… .
  • Stop wasting my time.
  • I have better things to do.
  • you never do things right.
  • This is your fault.
  • You are always in the way.
  • Leave me alone.
  • Get out of my face.
  • Get away from me.
  • Every time I look at your face, you make me angry.
  • I am tired of dealing with you.
  • You make me sick.
  • You are annoying.
  • You are getting on my nerves.
  • I give up on you.

Tones of Voice to Avoid in Building Child Self Esteem

  • Shouting
  • Irritation
  • Sarcasm
  • Sounds of surrender
  • Sounds of lack of care or interest
  • A tone that indicates you are in a hurry or can’t be bothered.

Raising children is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Our kids are not carbon copies of ourselves. Often we’re glad they aren’t!

You will be a successful parent when you encourage your child to learn responsibility and independence, if you model positive behavior.

Kids are great little copy cats. They will model your habits. The best gift you can give them is your own good practices.

Have fun along the journey to building child self esteem. It’s a precious one!




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