700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Building Healthy Self-Esteem in Children

May 18, 2021
mother and daughter

How we value and perceive ourselves is better known as “self-esteem.” Our experiences, our environment, and the people with whom we choose to surround ourselves can all have an effect on how we see ourselves.

A healthy self-esteem is especially important for children as they grow. It influences their attitude, energy level, and how they relate to others, as well as their ability to learn and be creative. Children with high self-esteem are also likely to cope with stress effectively. Children who have a healthy self-esteem are more likely to be happy.

Children with low self-esteem are often reluctant to try new things. They often feel inadequate, give up easily, and are more likely to misbehave, become anxious or depressed. Low self-esteem may be caused by an insufficient amount of praise, affection and attention. It can also be caused by unfavorable comparisons to others as well as critical comments or actions.

What can you do to promote and encourage healthy self-esteem in your child?

  1. Praise your child for their efforts and achievements. Children feel good about themselves when they receive plenty of praise and encouragement, not only on the final result of a project or activity but also for the effort they put forth.
  2. Tell your child you care. Children need to be told often they are valued and loved. Spending time with your child and being available when they need you also shows them you care.
  3. Encourage your child to set goals and evaluate their own achievements. Help your child set achievable goals, be supportive, offer suggestions and encouraging comments, not criticism. Then, ask your child for their opinions about what they have accomplished and prompt them to give themselves some praise for their efforts.
  4. Talk about making mistakes. Let your child know that making mistakes is a normal part of life and learning, and that it doesn’t make them a failure. Admit your own mistakes and talk to your children about what you did to make the situation better.
  5. Help your child deal with disappointment and manage their feelings. Encourage your child to try again after a setback. Allow your child the space to express their frustrations. Give them extra attention and support when they are upset. Let your child know that you understand and will help them find a way to deal with the situation.
  6. Teach your child how to problem solve. Instead of running to your child’s rescue whenever there is a problem, teach your child problem solving skills so they can take responsibility for solving their own problems. Teach them to state the problem clearly, brainstorm possible solutions, choose the best solution, try out the solution, and review and make changes, if necessary.

If you are looking for more tips around positive parenting, Nationwide Children’s Hospital offers free Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) support on a wide variety of topics for parents of young children. For more information, click here, email TripleP@NationwideChildrens.org or call (614) 355-8099.  

Featured Expert

Crystal Milner

Crystal Milner is a Behavioral Health ECMH Consultant at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

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Pediatric News You Can Use From America’s Largest Pediatric Hospital and Research Center

700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.