The Keys to Promoting Self-Esteem in Children

Helping a child realize they're valuable and worthy of love is the key to healthy development. Today we'd like to give you some keys to promote self-esteem in the children of your life.
The Keys to Promoting Self-Esteem in Children
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Self-confidence is a fundamental piece of the human puzzle. It’s the kind of support that keeps us going, and represents the foundation of our ability to function in this world. It’s important to promote self-esteem in children as it’ll help them develop into healthy, responsible adults.

Unfortunately for humans, self-esteem isn’t always easy to attain. This is because parents don’t innately know how to raise children. Fortunately, there are ways to educate oneself and learn something new and use some techniques that can help us do it.

Keep reading to find out the keys to promote self-esteem in your children.

The importance of self-esteem in children

Clearly, no one is born with the knowledge of what it takes to raise well-adjusted children who’ll be able to achieve all their goals when they become adults. It isn’t always easy, though. Oftentimes our little ones have a strong personality that’s difficult to deal with and makes it hard to guide them. However, being able to promote a child’s self-esteem is key to their proper development.

It’s a way for them to be more autonomous, strong and responsible. In fact, they need to know how to protect and value themselves. This is because parents can’t watch their children at all times and so these often become victims of bullying.

Bullying is a sad reality we can solve by providing strategies our children can follow. Furthermore, helping them develop healthy self-esteem at a young age will make them well assured and capable of forming healthy relationships. This way, nobody will be able to control them and take advantage of them.

It’s worth a try, right?

The keys to raising well-adjusted children

A child lying on the ground.
Self-confidence is key to developing into a mature and responsible individual.

1. Promote responsibility and self-esteem in your children.

Know that the education of a child begins at the moment in which they’re born. It’s for this reason that you must establish schedules for everything they do (eating, sleeping, resting or bathing) and keep them up as they grow up. Also, begin assigning tasks such as picking up their toys, making their bed and taking their dishes to the sink. Being responsible for certain chores will provide a certain order in their life and make them feel valuable due to their contributions.

Having responsibilities will help them understand that they have duties to fulfill. Thus, they’ll be proud of themselves when they comply and do a good job. This is because they’ll perceive themselves as capable and useful. Thus, their feeling of worth will strengthen every time they clean up their room, and when they fold and put away their clothes, and even when they take care of the family pet.

2. Praise them when they do something well, and offer support when they don’t.

Some parents aren’t patient nor savvy enough to recognize what their children do well and think it their job to only point out mistakes and failures. However, this practice is terrible when it comes to promoting your children’s self-esteem. This is because, sooner or later, they’ll begin to ignore their duties and won’t care to strive to do better. Worst of all, your criticism will only negatively impact their self-perception.

Instead, you must reinforce every attempt by telling them what a good job they’re doing, when they do it. However, it’s rather inappropriate to scold them when they do something “wrong.” Stay away from expressions such as “you can’t ever do anything right.”

Also, it’s a huge mistake to compare them with other children. Mainly, you should encourage them to try again after any failed attempt and show them ways to succeed. Instill confidence in them. Tell them things such as “I know these subjects are hard, but I’m sure that you’ll eventually get the hang of them if you keep trying. Don’t worry.”

The University of Indiana did a study on the impact of comparisons in children. Their results confirmed that long exposure to TV decreases a child’s self-esteem as they just can’t help but compare themselves to the fictional characters.

Read also: Five Alternatives to Punishment for Children

3. Show them that you trust and love them.

A person hugging a child.
The self-esteem of children who grow up with trust and love is higher.

Love and trust are indispensable for raising well-adjusted children. As psychologist Ana Torre says:

“If you value children, they’ll value themselves, too, because we’re like a mirror to them. Thus, the image we project about them will be just what they perceive.”

So, children must feel loved, valued, integrated, and recognized. For this reason, they need to know you’re there for them. Let them know how special they are to you. Show them that you trust them and that your love for them is unconditional. Doing so is key to their emotional well-being and will increase their self-esteem.

4. Provide them with opportunities to exercise their assertiveness.

Assertiveness is about self-defense. Children must learn to speak up and say “no” out loud if they have to. They must do so in the first person and state what they want and don’t want to avoid being manipulated. Learning to say “no” is key when someone tries to subdue or dominate them.

Provide your children with a democratic education that has clear rules, but make sure they understand them. Don’t be authoritarian. Instead, try to reason with them and establish open communication. Your children will lie and avoid you when you punish them for telling you the truth. So, listen carefully and try to reason with them so they’ll always go to you when they have a problem.

Being assertive and knowing how to defend their rights and their voice will increase their self-esteem and they’ll be strong and capable throughout their life.

Finally, keep in mind that true education begins at home and that you must set an example as a parent or an educator or just as an adult who interacts with a child. Raising well-adjusted children isn’t easy, but if you instill confidence, respect, love, and set clear boundaries, then your children will truly grow up to be well-adjusted responsible adults.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.