Preserving and Increasing Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Child development specialists have long known the power of positive self-esteem. Defined simply as the degree to which a child values him or herself, self-esteem serves as a crucial variable for future adjustment, ethical development, happiness, optimism, acceptance of others and even psychological health as a teenager and adult. In our opinion, few factors are more important than a child’s level of self-esteem. Here are a few tips for parents to consider as they strive to cultivate and reinforce healthy, positive self-esteem in their children.

  • Set a good example. Children will model and learn positive self-esteem from parents who demonstrate this element of personality. e.g., let them hear you forgive yourself when making mistakes. Show them your own self-acceptance that things don’t have to be perfect.
  • Be a good listener. Children need to be heard even if you don’t agree.
  • Give genuine and specific praise.
  • Show enthusiasm for their productions, activities and interests.
  • Don’t combine praise with criticism.
  • Encourage your children to tackle challenging tasks and let them know your confidence in their ability.
  • Ask your children for help; let them feel like an expert.
  • Let them know your pleasure in just “being with them”.
  • Apologize when you make a mistake; show them you are human. This shows respect.
  • Criticize behavior, not the person. For example, “I didn’t like what you did at dinner” and not “You’re a bad boy.”
  • Catch your child doing something good or right and reinforce the behavior immediately.
  • Make your expressions of love unconditional, even when angry at specific behaviors.
  • Spend time with your children; quantity is as important as quality… regardless of what the media has told us!!


Logo for The Jason Foundation

National Awareness Affiliate

Logo for the American Football Coaches Association