Child Self-Esteem: How to Encourage It

In your eyes, your children are an amazing miracle, but do you know if they feel the same way about themselves? Self-esteem is how children perceive their value in themselves and how they think others see their value. Low self-esteem in children affects their ability to trust and form healthy relationships in the future.

Encouraging healthy child self-esteem gives kids improved confidence to tackle challenges, bounce back after mistakes, and keep on trying even when things are hard. Kids with low self-esteem can struggle with feelings of defeat and acceptance. Healthy self-esteem sets the stage for success in adulthood.

Tips for Encouraging Child Self-Esteem

Parents are highly influential in boosting child self-esteem by promoting a sense of feeling valued and accepted. Nurturing self-esteem begins when children are very little. Show them how to do things, and gradually let them do things as they can, even if they make mistakes. Praise their efforts rather than their success. Your words matter to children, so don’t criticize harshly or over-praise them. Focus on their strengths and encourage them to focus on them, too. Model healthy esteem in your words and your actions during everyday activities. Furthermore, modeling and encouraging a self-compassion and mindfulness are significant contributors to a child’s ability to cope with stressors.

Children with healthy self-esteem have confidence in doing the things you expect, as well as taking on new responsibilities. Kids demonstrate healthy self-esteem by tolerating frustration and being able to handle negative and positive emotions well. Being a helper rather than being a child needing help is another sign of healthy self-esteem.

As children develop, they’ll have many opportunities to revel in their accomplishments. Trophies and awards make for nice mementos of their success, but prizes don’t feel as special when everyone gets an award just for participation. Awards mean far more to children who earn them through their effort and personal commitment. Use mistakes and lack of effort as opportunities to teach them how to accept disappointments graciously, and to work harder next time.

Enhancing your child’s self-esteem is a work in progress throughout their formative years. Practicing sharing in the pride of doing well moves them into adulthood feeling capable, effective, and accepted.

Contact us to learn more tips for encouraging your child’s self-esteem. We serve families of San Diego County, including Carlsbad, Encinitas, San Marcos, Rancho Santa Fe, Escondido and surrounding cities.

About Susan Gehrig, PhD

Susan Gehrig, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and founder of Paradox Psychological Services located in Carlsbad. She has a passion for supporting the wellbeing of children and teens. Her expertise is in child mindfulness and self-compassion, cognitive behavioral therapy, and child development. Dr. Gehrig provides psychoeducational testing and therapy services to help build a plan for success. Paradox provides services for families of San Diego North County and greater areas.

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