Building Children’s Self-Esteem to Last a Lifetime

Parents are often concerned about keeping their kids out of harm’s way and avoiding every scrape and bruise, but it’s just as important to protect their mental well-being. Nurturing your child’s self-esteem and keeping it strong can impact them for the rest of their lives, helping them feel more confident and positive into adulthood and beyond.

The key to a healthy self-worth is balance. Children need to be praised for what they do well but also be allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. The best environment is one in which the child is held accountable for their actions and not micromanaged. This way they can learn how to deal with complex situations and emotions like frustration, sadness and excitement–something key for a healthy self-esteem.

Ready to create a healthy, balanced environment? Encourage your child to:

  1. Set realistic goals: When your kid comes up with a goal and reaches it, they get a confidence boost and learn about their own abilities. Proper praise for these achievements (and also supporting them if they fall short) shows that trying is the most important thing.
  2. Learn from their mistakes: Children who are never allowed to make mistakes because their parents fix everything for them could have difficulty adjusting to adulthood, which will be a blow to their self-esteem.
  3. Limit social media use: Studies have shown that being ignored or receiving negative feedback on social media harms self-esteem. While cutting out social media completely is difficult and unrealistic for most parents to control, limiting social media use can help kids feel less dependent on online gratification for their self-worth.
  4. Perform acts of kindness, such as volunteering: Helping others gives children a sense of accomplishment and pride. It feels good to see what a difference you can make.
  5. Participate in after-school activities: Playing a sport or joining band or other clubs boosts confidence and improves social skills.
  6. Stop talking negatively about themselves: If your child has a habit of saying things like “I’m so stupid” or “I can’t do anything right,” don’t just let it slide. Encourage them to stop focusing on the negative and start finding the positive things about themselves.

Photo credit: Jeff Turner

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