The Self-Esteem Conundrum

self-esteem conundrumTips to fill your child’s self-esteem bucket

In an effort for kids to feel good about themselves have we made life too easy for them?

Kids don’t get self-esteem from hearing a mountain of feel-good statements of ‘Well done!’ or getting Self-esteem certificates for mediocre performances.

One of the tricks that successful parents use is to gradually teach kids the skills of self-esteem building.

Here are 5 skills for self-esteem building:

1. Self-praise

The best strategy for kids of all ages and both genders is the development of self-praise. You can cue your kids into self-praise by saying, ‘Well, what do you think about that?’ Challenge negative responses (‘It’s crap!’) and help kids be realistic appraisers of what they do.

2. Realistic self-talk

Many kids will default to putting themselves down when they don’t do well. Help children understand their own self-talk. Get them to listen to that little voice in their heads that says they can or can’t do things and help them work out alternative messages that they can use if they are self-defeating. Teach kids that they can change the self-talk from a negative to a positive response.

3. Encouraging others

When children and teenagers encourage others to do well they are internalising encouragement. They also begin to associate encouragement they give to others with themselves. So if a child praises a sibling for overcoming a learning challenge, such as improving his spelling at school, he is learning first hand about the impact that encouragement will have. He’ll also experience that feeling himself.

4. Regulating feelings

If a child feels disappointed in himself he doesn’t have to stay that way. It’s important for kids to realise having feelings is ok, for them to be validated and not be overwhelmed by them. Kids learn to manage their feelings by observing modelling from parents/carers. We can teach kids to regulate their stress levels; express their feelings constructively, not impulsively or hurtfully.

5. Choosing friends

Peers give young people a sense of belonging and an increased sense of self-confidence. Talk with your child about friendships so that you offer support when there are difficulties and provide some ideas when needed. Give kids the opportunity to develop their own resourcefulness and to understand that they can make smart friendship choices, broaden their friendship group, and walk away from challenging situations.


PS: Worried about your child?  Want to learn age-specific skills to develop real self-esteem? There is plenty of expert advice, ideas and tools in the Confident Kids section of Parentingideas Club.

Michael Grose

Michael Grose is the current Channel 9 Today Show parenting commentator, reaching parents Australia-wide on a regular basis.He is also the author of 8 parenting books, including his latest release Thriving! and the best-selling Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It.

A popular presenter, Michael Grose speaks to parents, teachers and principals on a regular basis.Michael comes from an education background, and has conducted post-graduate research into what makes healthy families tick.He's given over 1500 parenting presentations, including the first parenting seminar in Parliament House, Canberra.Michael is married with three adult children who have all successfully flown the parent nest.

Latest posts by Michael Grose (see all)