Self-esteem is how we see ourselves and how we feel about ourselves.
Someone with high self-esteem values himself.
Why is it important to have high self-esteem?
Having high self-esteem is important.
It allows children to feel proud of themselves.
It gives them the courage to try new things.
It gives them confidence and helps them become independent.
It helps them stand up for themselves and for what they believe in.
It helps them accept love and praise.
It also helps them admit when they've made a mistake (and motivates them
to correct it or learn from it).
High self-esteem gives children the willingness to try something again even
if they failed the first time.
It helps children make good decisions.
High self-esteem helps children care about themselves, protect themselves,
and keep themselves safe and healthy.
High self-esteem helps kids set goals and look forward to their futures.
What affects a child's self-esteem? Children build self-esteem throughout all of their lives.
Infants begin building self-esteem as soon as they are born.
A baby's self-esteem is built by having his basic needs met.
When a baby cries, he needs comfort, food, warmth, or sleep. When you
fulfill these needs, you help your child feel safe and secure.
The way the needs are met is also important. Babies also need love,
attention, and affection.
For example, instead of just feeding a baby, parents make it an enjoyable
experience. They speak to their babies in soft, loving voices. They smile
Even though the baby can't understand everything that is being said,
he understands your tone of voice.
When you give your baby loving attention you teach him that he is important.
When children are toddlers, they begin to take steps toward independence.
They explore their world to learn more about it. Toddlers like to touch
and taste everything.
You can help build confidence by making your child's world a safe place
to explore. Set limits, but don't be too quick to say, "Don't touch that!"
Encourage him to play with new things. Share new experiences with him.
Give him chances to do things on his own. A toddler might be able to
pull off his own shoes or choose a favorite toy for the car ride.
Let him help you. He can probably bring you things that you've asked
for or help put things back into his toy box. Show him how proud you are
Children this age love to act like adults. They like to do things they
see parents and older brothers and sisters doing.
Take the time to teach your child new things. He is eager to learn and
wants to please you.
A preschooler learns a lot by doing. For example, he gets satisfaction
out of drawing a picture but may not really care how it turns out.
Most young children feel pretty good about their skills. They may not
have discovered their strengths and weaknesses yet.
Children this age do not have a lot of experience in setting goals and
working toward them. Their goals may be too high or too low for their
Adults and teachers can help children set goals that are challenging,
Teens often experience a lot of changes in their self-esteem because
they are going through a lot of changes in their lives.
It is greatly affected by how friends, teachers, and parents see them
(or how teens think they see them).
It also can be affected by body image. Teens' bodies are changing and
the changes are sometimes awkward. Help your teen understand the changes.
Teens often have expectations that are too high. For example, they may
want to be the best player on the team or have the perfect athletic build.
Encourage your teen to concentrate on improving instead of being best.
Encourage him to accept himself instead of trying to be perfect.
What helps build a child's self-esteem?
Exercise. Exercise helps relieve stress and makes children feel strong.
Sharing talents. A great reader can visit a younger class to share a favorite
Setting and reaching goals.
Learning new skills. Teaching others new skills.
New responsibilities and freedoms.
Activities that require cooperation (rather than competition alone).
Praise for a job well done or for good effort.
Being part of a team or club.
Being an important part of a family or group of friends.
What hurts a child's self-esteem?
Every child has low self-esteem at some time in his life. A child might
feel bad after getting a low grade or having a bad game.
Criticism can make children feel bad. It can come from parents, siblings,
teachers, coaches, or a bully.
Children often criticize themselves! They may feel like they aren't good
enough unless they're perfect.
Children can be hurt by others' expectations, too. Parents should avoid
pressuring children to reach unrealistic goals.
Children with very low self-esteem may need to see a special doctor, called
a therapist or psychologist. The doctor will help them talk about their feelings.
How can parents help?
Give your child love, attention, and affection.
Spend time alone with him.
Take interest in his hobbies and opinions.
Be a good listener.
Give your child chances to try new things, especially if he shows an interest
or talent in something, such as painting.
Give your child specific praise. Instead of just saying, "Great job," put
an arm around your child and say, "You were very responsible today. You came
home and did your homework without any reminders. I could tell you were working
hard. Good job."
Set a good example. Show that your own self-esteem is important. Instead
of complaining about your weight, say, "I feel great when I exercise. I'm
going to take a jog after dinner."
Praise your child for his effort. "I know you're sad that you didn't make
the team, but I'm proud of you for trying. It took a lot of courage and hard
Self-esteem is how we see ourselves and how we feel about ourselves.
High self-esteem gives children the confidence to try new things and helps
them become independent.
Children build self-esteem throughout all of their lives, beginning at birth.
Teens often experience many changes in their self-esteem.
Self-esteem can be built by setting and reaching goals, learning new skills,
helping others, having new responsibilities and freedoms, and by thinking
Criticism, either of themselves or by others, can make children have low
Parents can help build their child's self-esteem by giving him new responsibilities,
taking interest in his hobbies, praising him for effort and a job well done,
and showing him that he is an important part of the family.
D'Arcy Lyness. How Can I Improve My Self-Esteem? KidsHealth: TeensHealth.
2001 April 9cited 2002 Wednesday 20). URL: http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/mental_health/self_esteem.html
D' Arcy Lyness. The Story on Self-Esteem. 2001 November (cited 2002 March
20). URL: http://www.kidshealth.org/kid/feeling/emotion/self_esteem_p3.html
Iowa State University: University Extension. Understanding Children: Self-Esteem.
Virtual Children's Hospital: Iowa Health Book. 1993 August (cited 2002 March
Rutherford, K. Developing Your Child's Self-Esteem. KidsHealth. 2001 September
(cited 2002 March 20). URL: http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/self_esteem.html
"Virtual Pediatric Hospital", the Virtual Pediatric Hospital logo, and "A digital library of pediatric information" are all Trademarks of Donna M. D'Alessandro, M.D. and Michael P. D'Alessandro, M.D.
Virtual Pediatric Hospital is funded in whole by Donna M. D'Alessandro, M.D. and Michael P. D'Alessandro, M.D. Advertising is not accepted.
Your personal information remains confidential and is not sold, leased, or given to any third party be they reliable or not.
The information contained in Virtual Pediatric Hospital is not a substitute for the medical care and advice of your physician. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.