A Child's Self-Esteem Starts at Home

August 28, 2013 Emily Roberts MA, LPC

A child's self-esteem is being shaped by every interaction he or she has. How children see themselves will influence their education, relationships and overall well-being. Life is often about feeling competent and accepted, their outer world doesn’t always mirror this. The unconditional acceptance at home, from parents, is the catalyst for successful self-esteem in your child.

Positive Experiences Build A Child's Self-Esteem

Parents need to fill a child's self-esteem bucket over the brimEvery experience is an opportunity for growth and guidance. (Tools for Building Self-Esteem in Children) Turning a trying time or triumph into a beautiful reminder or lesson can be easier than you think and will do a lot for the self-esteem of your child. It just takes some awareness. Think back to your childhood, what experiences made a positive impact on your self-esteem, made you feel like you were “good enough” or that you could persevere? (read: My Path to Positive Thinking)

When I was growing up, my father used to come to all my soccer games. At the end of the game, he would praise me for my assists, teamwork and effort. He didn't focus on goals scored or whether we won or lost. If I didn’t play my best, he still praised me. They were thoughtful complements based on what I had done, helping a teammate up off the ground or a thoughtful kick in the right direction. He found ways to inspire me and keep my head held high. Twenty years later, this has helped me see the light in some seemingly dark circumstances.

Tips to Build Your Child's Self-Esteem

  • Recognize your child’s good intentions, even if they don’t follow through. Trying to get their backpack together the night before and not doing it completely still requires a positive remark about effort.
  • Post their work on your desk or refrigerator. Don’t just highlight the grade, rather the accomplishment.
  • Allow them to pick an item out at the grocery store that they want the family to try.Learn how to build unshakable confidence in your child with these self-esteem tips
  • Sit near them or check-in when they are doing a stressful activity. Your presence can mean more than words; they feel connected and supported.
  • Make positive comments or complements about other people's ideas or actions in front of them.
  • Recognize good behavior, even subtle shifts like waking up on time or doing something they “should” be doing. It reinforces good behavior and feelings of accomplishment.
  • Ask your child, "what went well today," versus "how was your day". It encourages looking at the bright side of life.
  • Allow him or her to order off-the-menu occasionally, no exceptions or side comments about “healthy” or “good” food choices.
  • Be a good example. Don’t complain about your own looks and don’t comment on others appearance or weight. This provides them with the model of a healthy lifestyle.Another tip for building self-esteem in your child is to leave him a thoughtful note
  • Put a thoughtful note in their lunch box and think of a genuine complement "You are such a good helper. Have a great day." or praise their behavior "Great job studying last night, you're going to do great on that test."
  • Ask for their input. It makes them feel valued. “What do you think?” They want to know that you’re interested in how they see the world and their thoughts. “What do you think we should play after dinner?” “What do you think of that TV show?"
  • Let them pick the family movie or meal. Avoid questioning them, “Is that really a good choice” or “are you sure?” You begin to make them doubt themselves.
  • Teach them to lend a hand; helping a sibling, collecting donations, or giving back to the community. Have them volunteer with you or an organization that they feel passionate about.
  • Explore their wildest dreams. Encourage them to think of what they want to be or do when they grow up, and instead of judgments, let them bask in their imagination. It teaches them to feel accepted.
  • Don’t gossip about friends in front of them or your partner. They will do the same. They are watching you even though their eyes may be glued to the iPad. They pick up on this behavior.

There will be many cases in which other people or circumstances will make your child feel bad, bring their confidence down, and try and stifle self-esteem building. As their parent, you always have to do your best to build your child's self-esteem back up. Focus on the positives and help them problem solve. Start now. It's never too late. (additional help: Books That Build Confidence for Adults and Kids)

Take Good Care,

Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

APA Reference
Roberts, E. (2013, August 28). A Child's Self-Esteem Starts at Home, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

April, 17 2014 at 5:34 pm

Unconsciously i focus on the negative rather then the positive and as a result my oldest daughter suffers from low self esteem.
I really don't want this to happen to my younger daughter and want to work hard to prevent this from happening and also to help my older daughter gain more confidence. I myself suffer from low self esteem and i know that i have to work on myself before i can help them.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 2 2014 at 6:41 pm

Hi Anne,
It seems like you are taking some great steps forward to help your family and yourself. I know that I have worked with mothers who want to help their girls but are fearful to admit their own struggles-which can be such a helpful sight for girls who think its "just me". The genuineness you have seems to be such a blessing and I bet you can teach both your daughters from your hard work and honesty about your struggles. And push them in a direction to feel safe coming to you knowing you understand.

February, 21 2014 at 1:24 am

I like the praise the specifics idea. My daughter says to me - Do you like my picture? I say yes she says What do you like about it? Now when she asks me If I like her picture I say yes, that flower is such a bright yellow it makes me feel happy

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 23 2014 at 2:32 pm

Hi Sara! I am so glad to hear that you and your daughter are communicating this way- it's beautiful!

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