Helping Kids Develop Self-Esteem

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Child Counseling


Self esteem is how we perceive ourselves and how we believe others feel about us. For children, a large part of that comes from what their parent or caregiver tells them about themselves and the feedback they receive.


Children begin building self-esteem at a very early age. As infants, children learn that when their needs are met by a caregiver they are loved, accepted and safe. As a child continues to develop, they begin to try new thing. As they age, they begin to compare themselves with others and sometimes question if they are competent and capable.


So how can parents help a child develop self-esteem? Here are some practical tips to help parents encourage self esteem in their child.


Allow Children an Opportunity to Try New Things


Children are naturally curious about their interests and abilities. Sometimes as parents, we may have preconceived ideas about certain activities but allowing your child to lead shows that you respect their interests and what they want to do. Children need a chance to try new things and discover what they enjoy. Likewise, the process of trying new things is not about what they master but rather what they try and enjoy. You can reflect their feelings about what they try “you really enjoy golfing” versus placing a value on how well they play. It’s about the discovery, not the skill.


Give Age-Appropriate Responsibility


Children need the opportunity to practice age-appropriate tasks. This might look like assisting with emptying the dishwasher, helping with pets, or putting away their clothes. Encourage your child’s effort rather than whether they completed the task perfectly. Give them a task that they can experience some success with. Do not criticize or critique their efforts. Children develop self-esteem through a sense of accomplishment. They learn that they are competent and capable.


Use Encouragement Instead of Praise


Generally, we use praise quite liberally. However, praise includes a judgement and teaches kids that they have to “earn” their acceptance. Encouragement, on the other hand, acknowledges a child’s effort and is not concerned about the completed product. Encouragement also teaches a child that they can feel good about themselves independent of someone else’s acceptance and approval.


Model Your Own Self-Esteem


Children are always watching and listening. Be sure to show your child what it sounds like to model positive self-talk. Don’t be afraid to share when you’ve tried something, and it didn’t turn out as you expected. This normalizes to children that its ok to try something and learn along the way.


Parents and caregivers play an important role in the development of their child’s self-esteem. Helping children develop self-esteem at a young age allows them to develop resilience, work through challenges, and develop a positive self-concept.










About the author:

<a href="" target="_blank">Stephanie Rodenberg-Lewis</a>

Stephanie Rodenberg-Lewis

Stephanie is a licensed professional counselor, a registered play therapist, a national certified counselor and a certified school counselor. She has over 17 years of experience working with children as a classroom teacher, school counselor and licensed therapist. She founded Collective Hope Counseling in August 2020 to help serve her community. With her extensive experience in child development, she knew she wanted to work with kids and their families. Stephanie completed additional training in child centered play therapy and became a certified+ play therapy professional in 2024.