Developing Healthy Self Esteem In Young Children

If you ask a new parent what their hopes and dreams are for their child they would most likely respond by saying ‘to be happy and feel good about themselves’. What they are often describing is positive self-esteem, a child’s belief that they can make great things happen and are worthy of love and attention.



Think of positive self-esteem as a warm winter coat – insulating your child from the cold and protecting them from any storm that might come their way. Children with positive self-esteem are better able to handle life’s challenges; rolling with the ‘punches’ and staying optimistic. In other words, positive self-esteem helps kids be resilient (external link).

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How and what we think about ourselves starts early in life with parents, caregivers, teachers, friends and neighbours all playing an important role. The good news is: fostering healthy self-esteem is achieved in the simplest of ways by building on every day moments such as:

  • Providing unconditional love. Especially when they misbehave!
  • Showing and giving affection – a hug, a smile, a wink (works well when their friends are around), perhaps a special note in their lunch box?
  • Having realistic expectations about their skills and abilities
  • Celebrating your child’s uniqueness, temperament and all!
  • Helping them to feel secure by establishing predictable routines, reasonable limits and using positive discipline strategies
  • Empowering them. Nothing like being mom or dad’s little helper to make them feel they are part of the team and know that they are capable! Don’t forget to praise them for their efforts!
  • Helping them to set and reach their goals!
  • Encouraging them to do their best while letting them know that they are more important than the marks on their report card
  • Letting them experience failure. When mistakes happen or things do not go their own way children have an opportunity to learn that all is still good in their world and are more likely to pick themselves up and try again!
  • Fostering a positive outlook (external link). It can transform a challenging situation into a more manageable one, turning lemons into lemon meringue pie!
  • Sharing in some fun with family and friends. Happy memories can carry them through the more difficult times that life may throw their way
  • Strengthening connections through laughter, playing together, dancing or singing! It really can make a difference!
  • Feeling good about yourself. Remember the face that is looking back at you is often a reflection of your own.
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Self-esteem is not a constant; it can fluctuate as children grow. As a parent or caregiver it can be very painful to watch your child struggle with low self-esteem.

Children with low self-esteem:

  • Are often anxious, withdrawn, easily frustrated.
  • May struggle with change and making friends.
  • Are self-critical, ‘nobody likes me’ or ‘I am so stupid, I can’t do anything right’.
  • Easily disappointed in themselves.
  • Reluctant to try new things and/or give up easily.

If your child shows symptoms that concern you please seek help. Changing your child’s inner voice and helping them to see the cup as half full will go a long way in helping your child reach their full potential. Consult your healthcare provider or contact HaltonParents.

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