How to Help Improve Your Child's Self-Esteem

Two parents are picking up their daughter

Raising confident children is not an easy task, but there are simple steps that parents can take to make a world of difference. There is no magic way to guarantee high self-esteem throughout all phases of life, but healthy and productive behavior can drastically improve self-esteem and confidence. The keys to teaching your child how to build self-confidence are helping them feel secure, loved, and capable.

Keep reading for how to improve self-esteem in children, as well as some tips for different age groups.

Teaching Children How to be More Secure

Children need to feel secure, particularly in regard to a parent’s love and acceptance. Be sure to communicate with your children that you will always love and support them, even if you don’t support certain behaviors. This includes setting clear boundaries (rules and expectations for behavior and safety) for your kids. They will push up against those boundaries—it’s only natural—but by pushing up against the boundary, they know that it is there and that they are securely enclosed. Without it, they could become untethered and lose a crucial component of building self-esteem.

Feeling Loved

Another aspect of providing security is showing children that when they make mistakes, we are there to help, and not to judge or simply punish. If your children understand that your disapproval is limited to certain actions, and not to them as individuals, you can help them feel more secure.

Sometimes we think our children know exactly how much we love them, but do we express love as often as they need or in the way they need it? Good communication is key to make sure your child’s emotional needs are being met and it’s okay to ask them directly about how they feel about your relationship.

Children feel truly loved when they feel you love them unconditionally exactly as they are with no strings attached. In other words, they see themselves as fully “lovable.” This helps give them the self-esteem they need to develop into fully capable adults.

How Can I Help My Child Feel Capable?

To succeed in life, it’s essential that your children feel capable, meaning that they feel able to make age-appropriate decisions and accomplish things on their own. You can help your children feel capable by encouraging and enabling them to explore their passions and make choices. For this to work, they must be free to have their own interests and identity, separate from yours.

Rather than directing them toward the activities or answers you think are best, step back and observe -- when you see them gaining interest in a hobby or expressing themselves in a unique way, encourage them to pursue those passions with your full support.

An especially empowering application of this idea is allowing your children to participate when making important family decisions. They may not understand finance or whatever adult factors are involved in the decision, but they can also offer insights from their perspective and will feel more capable and can improve self-confidence by doing so. Communication is vital and you should thank them for their input and help them understand why the final decision was chosen.

Tips for Fostering Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence

Here are some more tips on how to improve self-esteem based on the three principles above according to age group:

In elementary school:

  1. Let your kids take healthy risks and make age-appropriate decisions
  2. Be honest in your praise
  3. Let them contribute

In middle school:

  1. Remove expectations of perfection
  2. Encourage exercise and healthy nutrition
  3. Include them in family decisions

In high school:

  1. Focus on praising their experiences, not appearances
  2. Have high expectations and give responsibility
  3. Allow them to explore passions

There are lots of ways you can make a difference in your child’s self-esteem, so don’t be afraid to try new things. It is possible to improve your children's self-esteem if you help them feel secure, loved, and capable, but all of these elements must work together.

Keep as many channels of communication open as possible, and don’t be afraid to talk to your children directly about how they feel their emotional needs are being met. There’s no right or wrong way to do this because every child is different--and you know your child best!

To learn how you can be more involved in your children’s education and enjoy opportunities to help them build character and develop self esteem, visit the website for Connections Academy online public school. Or to learn about online private school, visit Pearson Online Academy ’s website.

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