Children's Self-Esteem: How Parents Can Help

Teaching children to value and love one another is critical for the development of their self-esteem. This article explains how you can teach them this ability.
Children's Self-Esteem: How Parents Can Help

Last update: 14 May, 2021

Self-esteem is one of the basic pillars of emotional intelligence. High self-esteem means you love yourself in a healthy way. This allows you to establish satisfactory social relationships. On the other hand, low self-esteem can affect you on a personal and emotional level and can also influence your social and academic life. Parents have a big role to play in the development of their children’s self-esteem. This article explains how.

What’s self-esteem?

Self-esteem is how you assess yourself. In other words, it’s a self-assessment or personal judgment of your own value. When we’re talking about children, self-esteem develops from the relationship between their character and the environment they grow up in.

This relationship is built, day by day, through trust and acceptance. Because, from birth, children seek safety and love from the people they relate most frequently with. Therefore, this is where the role of parents comes in.

A happy girl, showing the importance of childrens self-esteem.

During pregnancy, the child spends nine months living 24 hours a day inside their mother. In fact, numerous research studies suggest that the bond between mother and child is formed during pregnancy. When the baby is born, they need their mother to feed and care for them. For this reason, their mother will be the person they spend the most time with. However, the father is also important.

A child’s relationship with their attachment figures has a significant impact on the development of their self-esteem.

Children’s self-esteem and the Pygmalion effect

The Pygmalion effect, or self-fulfilling prophecy, explains how parents’ expectations about their children can become a reality.

There are two types of Pygmalion effect, positive and negative. The negative effect claims that, if you constantly tell your child they’re bad, lazy, or a troublemaker, the child will behave precisely in those ways. Because, unconsciously, they assume the role of what’s expected of them.

On the other hand, the positive effect states the opposite. Therefore, if you tell your child how good, friendly, and intelligent they are, they’ll feel safer, have a better image of themselves, and will act accordingly. For this reason, you should use the positive self-fulfilling prophecy for the benefit of your children.

Promoting children’s self-esteem

Here are some guidelines to promote positive self-esteem in children:

  • Correct the mistake, not the child. Naturally, you don’t expect your child to behave perfectly all the time. Furthermore, if they misbehave, you should correct them. However, don’t make value judgments about them.
  • Value their efforts, forget the results. Even if they haven’t successfully completed a task, you should always praise their efforts. This way, you’ll be teaching them to improve themselves.
  • Correct any limiting beliefs. For example, derogatory comments from other children can be very common. Children sometimes internalize these comments. This might diminish their self-esteem. In addition, their rational thinking isn’t yet fully developed, so you need to help them look at themselves objectively. Consequently, they’ll be able to create a more realistic and positive image of themselves.
  • Encourage them to take some risks. In fact, overprotection is one of the biggest causes of low self-esteem. Hence, from an early age, you should encourage your children to face certain challenges, even if they might pose small risks.
  • Don’t solve their problems for them. Allow your children to resolve their own conflicts with friends or siblings. Encourage them to communicate, suggest some solutions, and keep a close eye on the situation but don’t intervene.
A happy family.

One part of a child’s self-esteem is genetic, while the other depends on their parents. Helping your child have healthy self-esteem is a lifelong gift. Don’t forget that.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.