Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Your Child’s Self-Esteem


Your Child’s Self-Esteem

By Lance Archer

Ever wonder what goes on inside the mind of a child who seemingly lacks confidence, is highly self-critical, overly sensitive to correction and blunders, unforgiving of self, and is, overall, pessimistic about their abilities to excel?  Perhaps, in their minds, their way of thinking and feeling about themselves and their abilities has become negatively skewed. In fact, Dr. Audrey Sherman would sum up such characteristics as indicators of low self-esteem.


For many children with low self-esteem, they become anxious about engaging in activities that come naturally to their peers, e.g. meeting new friends, participating in class, etc. Soon, their social interactions diminish, their academic performance suffers, and they may become depressed.


Boosting Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Despite the varying ways a child may develop a low self-esteem, as parents there are ways we can boost their self-confidence and self-worth.


  • Encourage Them to Make Choices. When we offer children choices, we are expressing to them that their opinions matter to us. This, in turn, may lead them to feel valued and important to mom and dad. We can invite them to choose from a list of colours, items of clothing or even from a list of healthy snacks. The idea is to involve them in age and stage appropriate decisions to improve their confidence level in making choices.


  • Teach Them How to Problem Solve. Problem solving is a critical skill that our children need so that they can manoeuvre the challenges of school, and life in general. When we encourage them to problem solve in socially appropriate ways, we are building on a tool that can increase coping with future disappointments.


  • Encourage Them to Pursue Their Interests. We all have special interests as adults; so do our children! We can boost their self-esteem when we encourage them to go after those hobbies and activities they love and are good at. It helps when we show them that, “because this is important to you, it is also important to me as well.”


  • Offer Appropriate Praise: According to Brummelman and colleagues (2014) process praise, which mean praise for behaviours, is more appropriate than person praise—those praise we give for their personal qualities. This, by no means suggests that we ignore the awesome traits, talents, and abilities of our children! Indeed, these are worthy of being celebrated and embraced. But the difference between person praise and process praise, especially in children with low self-esteem, is that person praise tends to cause children to feel ashamed whenever they have experienced failures; they begin to associate failure with who they are. Meanwhile, process praise, particularly those for efforts in doing a task, can help children persevere amidst challenges and serve as academic motivation.


Benefits of Improved Self-Esteem

When our children support our children in boosting their self-esteem, we can expect to see an improvement in their capacity to solve problems, cope with disappointments and failures, become more confident and engaged at school, and belief they are worthy. We can expect them to accept themselves.



Brummelman, E., Thomaes, S., Overbeek, G., de Castro, B. O., van den Hout, M. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2014). On feeding those hungry for praise: Person praise backfires in children with low self-esteem. Journal of Experimental Psychology. General, 143(1), 9-14. doi:10.1037/a0031917

Lim, L., Saulsman, L. & Nathan, P. (2005). Improving self-esteem. Australia: Centre for Clinical Interventions.

Myers, R. (2013). 11 ways to help build your kid self-esteem. Retrieved from

Raising Children Network (2012). About self-esteem: Children 1-8 years. Retrieved from

Sherman, A. (2015). Characteristics of high and low self-esteem. Retrieved from


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