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Boosting Children’s Self-Esteem: Strategies and Considerations

Apr 1, 2024 | Child Therapy, Self-Esteem

As children grow, they become increasingly independent and autonomous, learning skills to become self-reliant. Building self-esteem is a pillar of child development, but children with low self-esteem may need support and guidance to realize their full potential.

Parents, caregivers, and educators can boost children’s self-esteem and prepare them for adult success through positive reinforcement, support, and guidance. Beyond the home, peer interactions also play a significant role in developing social skills, empathy, and self-understanding.

In this article, we explore self-esteem and its impact on children, with strategies for parents and caregivers to create a supportive framework around children and empower them to navigate life’s challenges with resilience.

The Foundation of Self-Esteem and How It Affects Children

Self-esteem is an individual’s understanding of their worth and intrinsic value. For children, it forms the bedrock of their emotional and psychological well-being, influencing their ability to take on challenges, form relationships, and navigate development.
While self esteem is often compared to confidence, confidence refers to one’s belief in their potential to achieve or do something. In contrast, esteem is how we appraise our value and self-worth. It’s not just about how good you feel but about being realistic and appreciative of your strengths and weaknesses.

High self-esteem fosters resilience, motivating children to try new things and persevere in the face of failure. In contrast, low self-esteem can lead to academic difficulties, social anxiety, and susceptibility to peer pressure. Individuals with high self-esteem are better prepared to enter intimate personal relationships than individuals with low self-esteem. High esteem individuals relate to others based on reciprocity and mutual respect whereas low esteem individuals may tend to use personal relationships as a means to validate their worth.

Recognizing the profound impact self-esteem has on children’s lives underscores the role of parents and peers in providing support for children and modeling self-esteem as role models.

The Role of Parents in Building Self-Esteem

Parents and caregivers play the largest role in developing children’s self-esteem. Through words, actions, and reactions, Parents model messages about worth and capability that children internalize. Positive reinforcement, active listening, and genuine praise are tools parents can use to bolster their children’s self-worth.

Parents who genuinely demonstrate their joy in interacting with their child provide validation of the inherent self-worth of the child and their capacity to bring joy to others just by being themselves.

Modeling behaviors, recognizing when a child does something truly unique and special, and actively listening to children’s needs and desires are constructive strategies that help show, rather than tell, your child that they are an amazing individual with unique strengths to bring to the world.

The Role of Peers in Building Self-Esteem

Peers, especially older or more mature children, also play a critical role in developing a child’s self-esteem. The friendships and interactions children have with one another influence their self-perception, social skills, and emotional growth.

However, the impact of peer relationships is double-edged. While positive experiences can uplift a child’s self-esteem, negative interactions, such as bullying or exclusion, can profoundly damage it. These experiences can lead to feelings of inadequacy, isolation, and distrust, which may persist into adulthood if unaddressed.

For parents and educators, it’s crucial to monitor peer interactions and provide guidance on navigating social challenges. Encouraging children to engage in group activities and play dates that align with their interests can help them form meaningful connections and do activities that boost their self-esteem.

Challenges to Building Self-Esteem in Children

While high self-esteem is beneficial to everyone, achieving it can be a complicated process. In an increasingly interconnected world where social media dominates, our ability to communicate is unparalleled, but so is the tendency for social comparison, or judging ourselves based on others.

Additional challenges arise from a child or adolescent’s environment. Peer pressures, academic difficulties, and overprotection can all diminish self esteem and present roadblocks to an individual’s self-appraisal.

In general, key challenges to building self esteem in children include:

  • Social Comparison and Social Media: The current digital age can expose children to unrealistic standards of success or beauty, fostering feelings of inadequacy.
  • Peer Pressure and Stereotypes: Expectations regarding appearance, intelligence, and behavior can place undue stress on children who don’t agree with or understand these expectations about their self-worth.
  • Balancing Protection and Independence: Overprotection by a parent can hinder the development of resilience, while too little support may lead to feelings of neglect.
  • Academic and Social Performance: The school environment or its extracurricular activities can be a significant stress for children who struggle to meet academic standards or social norms.

Addressing these challenges has everything to do with creating a supportive environment that promotes open communication.
The goal isn’t necessarily to boost confidence through external means (such as compliments) but to provide a safe environment where young people can explore and grow their emotional resilience by learning from mistakes and celebrating their individuality.

Tips and Strategies to Build Self-Esteem in Children

Building self-esteem in children is crucial for their emotional well-being and development. Generally, in the journey of nurturing self-esteem, the emphasis often falls on praise and positive reinforcement.

However, the goal isn’t necessarily to make children feel good but to create a supportive environment where they can feel safe exploring and making mistakes. True self-esteem is not just about external validation but about fostering an inner sense of worth and capability.
Parents can guide their children toward discovering and embracing their intrinsic value by modeling self-acceptance and providing a space where they feel valued for who they are.

Here are some practical tips and strategies that parents, caregivers, and educators can employ to nurture a positive sense of self in children:

  • Model Positive Self-Talk: Children learn by example. Demonstrating positive self-talk and handling challenges with a constructive attitude provides a good model for self esteem.
  • Offer Genuine Praise: Recognize and celebrate your child’s efforts, achievements, and unique qualities. Ensure that the praise is specific and genuine, focusing on their hard work and the process itself.
  • Encourage Independence: Allow children to make choices and take on tasks appropriate for their age.
  • Promote Collaborative Problem Solving: Encourage children to face challenges and solve problems, offering guidance to let them know when they’re on the right track.
  • Create a Safe, Loving Environment: A supportive family environment is foundational to developing healthy self esteem. Limit Comparison: Teach children to focus on their own growth and progress rather than comparing themselves to others.
  • Be an Active Listener: Show interest in your child’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Active listening lets them know their voice is valued.

By integrating these strategies into daily interactions, parents can provide a strong foundation for children to develop robust and positive self-esteem.

Additionally, parents can learn constructive strategies during Family Therapy, and children can also benefit from Child Therapy, where they can share their own experiences and self-perception in a safe space with tailored counseling to provide individualized support.

For more information about finding the right Child Therapist, please read this informative article:
Start My Wellness: Finding a Child Therapist

Get Expert Advice and Tailored Guidance With Start My Wellness

As we explore the challenges and considerations in building self-esteem in children, we see that the journey is as rewarding as it is complex. By prioritizing an environment where children feel valued for their true selves, parents and caregivers lay the groundwork for intrinsic self-worth that flourishes within.

For those seeking specialized guidance for their children, Start My Wellness offers expert advice and tailored strategies for navigating the nuances of building self-esteem.

Whether through family therapy that enhances parental approaches or child therapy that provides a safe space for children to express and understand their self-perception, professional support can be a pivotal part of this journey.

For more information, call our offices at (248)-514-4955 or make an appointment with our therapists today.



  1. Start My Wellness: How Does Self-Esteem Differ From Self-Confidence?
  2. Start My Wellness: Discovering Self-Worth: An Overview of Enhancing and Cultivating Self-Esteem
  3. Lumen Learning: Child Psychology: Peer Relationships
  4. Start My Wellness: From Doubt to Confidence: Nurturing Your Self-Esteem
  5. Start My Wellness: Why Do Kids Benefit from In-Person Therapy

Looking for a Therapist? Start My Wellness has highly experienced Licensed Therapists that are currently accepting new patients.


Blog Posts Tags: Child Therapy | Self-Empowerment
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