5 Ways Parents Can Do To Help Build A Child’s Self-esteem

5 Ways Parents Can Do To Help Build A Child's Self-esteem

Children learn and grow when they try new things, face challenges, and bounce back. With high self-esteem, children will be able to get good performance more efficiently. This is why parents should do their best to develop a child’s self-esteem.

This article will go through knowledge about self-esteem in children, how it is developed, and 5 effective ways parents can do to help build a child’s self-esteem.

What is Self-esteem?


Self-esteem refers to a person’s overall sense of value or worth. It can be considered a measure of how much a person “values, approves of, appreciates, prizes, or likes him or herself” (Adler & Stewart, 2004).

Children with self-esteem:

  • feel confident and think they can face new challenging things well
  • believe in and be proud of what they can do
  • believe and think good things about themselves

Children with low self-esteem:

  • feel a lack of confidence in themselves and compare negatively to other children
  • might say things like “I can’t do that” or feel hard on themselves
  • resist trying new challenging things

How Self-Esteem Develops


Self-esteem develops slowly over time. When your children are first born, they do not have self-esteem, but it develops gradually from observing and feeling from those around them, such as their parents, sisters, and brothers.

Self-esteem can start just because a child feels safe, loved, and accepted. It can start when a baby gets attention and loving care from parents.

Toddlers are starting to develop an understanding of themselves from observing the behaviour and feedback of older people. 

Preschoolers start to compare themselves with others and might ask whether they’re the strongest, fastest, or best at whatever they do.

As your children grow, self-esteem can grow and change gradually.

Self-esteem is proven to be the foundation of self-confidence.

Here are five effective ways parents can help boost their child’s self-esteem:

1. Set Realistic Expectations

Children need you to tell them what they can and cannot do. They need you to educate them and give them instructions so they know right and wrong. Your realistic expectations and boundaries are important for kids.

Based on that, children will act within the allowed framework and tend to act appropriately.

Parents can help children set achievable goals and celebrate their progress. Unrealistic expectations can lead to feelings of inadequacy and disappointment. You encourage them to focus on personal growth and effort rather than comparing themselves to others.

2. Unconditional Love and Support

You can believe it or not: Even a hug is significant to a child! They feel they are valued and loved, thereby building self-esteem over time.

Parents should often tell love and support unconditionally to children. Make sure they know that your love is not based on their achievements or successes but on who they are as a person. 

You are always there for them through both their triumphs and challenges, offering continuous encouragement and understanding.

3. Avoid harsh criticism

There is nothing worse than lowering a child’s self-esteem than criticism!

The messages children hear from others easily translate into how they feel about themselves. Harsh words (“You’re so stupid!”) are harmful to your child. When children hear negative messages about themselves, it destroys their self-esteem. 

Your child sometimes does something wrong and you can correct your child with patience. You instruct your child to focus on what you want them to do next time.

4. Positive Reinforcement by trying new things

Life is a series of discoveries. Your child has a long journey to try and explore, from which they will learn their strengths and form strong confidence in themselves.

You could pay attention to your child’s interests. For example, visiting the library to borrow books related to your child’s favourite subject, spending time together building blocks, doing puzzles, swimming, riding a bicycle – or whatever your child enjoys.

Therefore, you give them positive reinforcement in every new exploration journey. You acknowledge and praise your child’s efforts and achievements, big or small.

Be specific in your praise, pointing out what they did well and why you’re proud of them! Questions like ‘Did you give it a good try?’ or ‘Did you have fun?’ are better than ‘Did you win?’. Doing so shows your child that you value their effort and experience rather than the final result, which would make your child more likely to try new things next time.

5. Provide a Safe Environment for Children to Express Themselves

When children are allowed to make choices, they feel more powerful, says Victoria Sopik, CEO of corporate childcare service Kids and Company and mother of eight.

You could allow your child to take on age-appropriate responsibilities and make decisions. When they accomplish tasks independently, it boosts their sense of competence and self-worth. Even if they make mistakes, support them in learning from those experiences instead of criticizing or taking over.

Let your child explore their environment, but be ready to respond if they need you. For example, your child might be fascinated by an ant but frightened when it crawls on their foot. Your child needs you to let them know it’s ok.

Parents could create an open and supportive atmosphere at home where children feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, feelings, and concerns without judgment. You listen actively and validate their emotions, even if you might not always agree with them.


Self-esteem helps your children cope with challenges and try again, even if they fail initially. As a result, self-esteem helps children do better at school, at home, and in future work.

Remember that building self-esteem is an ongoing process, and each child is unique. Be patient, understanding, and consistent in supporting their emotional growth.

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