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Raising a child with healthy self-esteem

Published in Child Advocacy Services Author: Lorrie Spanier, BS, LADC

Coordinator of Adolescent Services
CentraCare/Recovery Plus Adolescent/Clara’s House

Think of self-esteem as armor protecting your child against the challenges of the world. Children with good self-esteem handle conflict and peer pressure better. Children with poor self-esteem may become anxious and frustrated when faced with challenges.

How can you help boost your child’s self-esteem?

  • Hug your child. Spontaneous affection and love will boost your child’s self-esteem.
  • Be honest. You don’t want your child to have an inflated sense of worth — so don’t overdo it.
  • Give positive feedback. Even in bad situations, acknowledge your child’s feelings and encourage your child to make a better choice next time.
  • Think before you speak. Words do hurt. Praise your child for effort — not just success.
  • Help them overcome disappointments. Use stories of your past failures and humor to help your child understand that everyone isn’t good at everything.
  • Be a positive role model. If you are overly critical of yourself, your child will mirror your attitude.
  • Identify false self-perceptions. Help your child have a realistic view of him/herself.
  • Encourage your child to talk to you. Having an open dialogue will help identify problems in school, trouble with peers or other issues that may affect your child’s self-esteem.
  • Create constructive experiences. Being involved with activities that encourage cooperation are great esteem builders, such as volunteering in the community.

If you are concerned about your child’s self-esteem, consider getting professional help. Therapy can help a child learn to view him/herself and the world more realistically and help with problem-solving. Developing the confidence to understand when you can deal with a problem and when to ask for help is vital to positive self-esteem.