Building your child’s self-esteem: 11 techniques to support your child

Low self-esteem is a problem many parents want support with. In this article we will be looking at what the concept of self-esteem is and what low self-esteem and high self-esteem might look like in your child.

11 strategies to help develop your child’s self-esteem will be discussed in more detail. There will be plenty of options and fun methods to choose from to help your child build their self-esteem.

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is a concept that concerns how people feel about themselves and how they perceive themselves. It also concerns how competent they see themselves in meeting the challenges of life and how worthy they feel they are of happiness. There are a number of factors that can be a part of high self-esteem such as the ability to bounce back from adversity, being confident in themselves and their abilities. It is also grounded in reality.

Why the need to raise self-esteem?

If your child has low self-esteem you might recognise that they are very self-critical, judge themselves excessively and experience a lot of doubt in their abilities. They might also feel like they are not as good as others.

Children with high self-esteem on the other hand tend to be more confident and believe in themselves more. They may also be more liked and accepted by their peers and others. Children with high self-esteem may also be more likely to take on new challenges and behave in a more responsible manner.

Stress and difficult experiences can also affect your child’s self-esteem and this can be a short-term or longer term effect.

Self-esteem techniques

There are a number of techniques that can be utilised to help increase your child’s self-esteem, which will be discussed in this section.

  1. Building self-esteem in your children will be an ongoing process. Children will experience different insecurities at different stages of life and it is useful to be able to access a range of techniques that can be helpful to steer your children back on track to feeling more themselves or supporting them through difficult trials and tribulations they may be going through whether they are feeling insecure about exams, their friendship groups or whether you feel a different approach might be useful.
  2. Being your child’s safebase for them to explore the world. This can be done through creating a secure, dependable and trustworthy relationship with your children whereby they see feel safety and acceptance. Your children will feel they have you as a reliable and secure base to return to.
  3. It can be useful to praise your child’s efforts and encourage them to keep trying rather than just for the outcome. Being specific about praise rather than being very general is also highly recommended in research.
  4. If your child fails, let them know you still love them regardless. It is important your child knows that you love them unconditionally.
  5. Allowing your child to experience failure. Trial and error is useful for learning and helps to foster resilience and perserverance in children. Let your children know that failure is also an opportunity to learn and grow.
  6. Supporting your child to become more independent such as allowing them to get involved in household tasks and this will be dependent on their age and abilities. This can include putting away laundry and helping to set the table for younger children. With older children they can be involved in more complex tasks such as helping or independently preparing a meal and doing chores around the house. This can help your child feel like they are making a contribution to family life.
  7. Supporting children to make decisions can be important in developing their confidence. With younger children this can be support to make choices with a limited number of options.
  8. Softening your criticism and being more gentle. Being highly critical and name calling can be very damaging to a child’s self-esteem. It can be useful to talk to your child about what happened, how they can avoid making the same mistakes in the future and what they can learn from the event.
  9. It can be helpful to address problems and difficult behaviour with your child at a time when they are calm and not in the heat of the moment when it can potentially exacerbate the situation.
  10. If your child is feeling frustrated about doing a task because they find it difficult it can be helpful to emphasise to them that it is about the process too. Working through problems can be a good learning experience as it helps your child feel more capable and confident too.
  11. Spending quality time with your child individually or together as a family can be great for self-esteem as it enhances a feeling of togetherness and a sense of belonging. This can include doing art and craft projects together, playing games or going for a picnic.
  12. Helping your child to be more present and mindful. This can help them let go of self-judgement because they are more fully engaged in the here and now rather than engaging in critical thinking. Children can be supported to listen, learn and experience in the present and to be more engaged. Helping your child to be less self-focussed can be useful as they are less likely to be engaging in critical evaluations of themselves. This can be done through engaging your child in activities that they can lose themselves in and that they find very engaging.

To summarise we have looked at the concept of self-esteem and how this applies to children in terms of high self-esteem and what low self-esteem is like so you know what to look out for. I have also listed 11 techniques that you might find helpful in developing your child’s self-esteem further.

What have you tried with your children in the past that has been helpful or perhaps not as helpful as you might have initially thought. Please leave any comments.

References/ further reading:

Branden, N. (1994). Six pillars of self-esteem. Bantam.
Bowlby, J. (1988). Secure base: parent-child attachment and healthy human development. Basic books.
Kennedy-Moore, E. (2019). Kid confidence: Help your child make friends, build resilience and develop real self-esteem. New Harbinger Publications.
Raboteg-Saric, Z. & Sakic, M. (2014). Relations of parenting styles and friendship quality to self-esteem, life satisfaction and happiness in adolescents. Applied research in quality of life, 9, 3, 749-765.


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