Self-esteem of the child, 10 tips for parents to improve it

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Marie-Ange Demory
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Strong self-esteem is the foundation of every child's future because it allows him to try and experiment on his own, making decisions, learning from his mistakes, learning to face the challenges of life instead of running away, to be "resilient" (term used in psychology, which indicates the ability to cope in positive way to traumatic events, reorganizing to cope with difficulties). In a word, self-esteem is key to helping a child grow. But how to help him?

The BabyCenter site has drawn up the decalogue for parents who want to help their child cultivate their self-esteem.

In this article


  • Give him unconditional love
  • Pay attention to it
  • Set limits
  • Let him take some risks
  • Let me be wrong
  • Praise what it does good
  • Listen to him
  • Avoid comparisons
  • Offer support
  • Encourage him
Read also: How to stimulate autonomy in children?

1. Give him unconditional love

A child's self-esteem grows if the parent loves him not for what he does, but without conditions. Feeling accepted for who you are and not what the parent wants you to be is a great help. So cuddle him, kiss him, pat him on the back and, above all, say "I love you, no matter who you are or what you do". And avoid scolding like "You're a bad boy! Why can't you be good?". Instead, try to take him back in a more "adult" way: "Pushing your brother like this is not good, you can hurt him and it can be dangerous: don't do it!" (Read also Punishments, better teach self-discipline)

Read also: Games and activities to develop self-esteem from 6 to 10 years

2. Pay attention to it

Take the time to give your child full attention - it's a practice that works wonders with self-esteem, because the message is that you think your little one is important and unique. It doesn't take a lot of time: just stop looking at the phone for a moment when you answer his question, instead of thinking it over; or simply turn down the volume on the TV for a few seconds to say a few words to him. The important thing is that, in addition to the voice, there is also eye contact: look him in the eye, so that he understands that you are interested in what he is saying.

3. Set limits

Make reasonable rules for your child, and make sure they don't change. For example, if you tell him that the snack is eaten in the kitchen, the next day you cannot ask him to go and eat it in the dining room. Knowing that some rules are set in stone will make him feel confident, even if, especially in the beginning, you will need to constantly tell him what the rules are. (See also 8 rules for scolding the child)

4. Make him take some risks

Encourage the child to explore, try new foods, find new friends, ride the tricycle. Even if there is the possibility of failure, without taking risks there will never be an opportunity for success: the proverb "nothing ventured nothing gained" in this case is spot on. So, let your child experiment, and resist the temptation to step in to warn him or to help if he is in trouble. And least of all by doing the "job" to him: you would increase his dependence and decrease his self-esteem. You must be able to balance the need to protect him with the need to help him grow.

5. Let me get it wrong

Making mistakes you learn: it is an important lesson for children. If he puts his glass too close to the edge of the table, don't scold him - instead, invite him to think about how he could do better next time. In this way the child learns that making mistakes sometimes happens: the important thing is to be able to recover and learn from one's mistakes. (You may be interested in How to Teach Your Child to Lose)

6. Praise what it does good

Anyone, when encouraged, reacts in a positive way; so make an effort to recognize the good things the child does on a daily basis, and tell him. Not simply with a "good", but also explaining why he was good, so that he knows exactly what he did well. (Read also Congratulations to the children yes, but without exaggerating)

7. Listen to him

If the child is trying to tell you something, listen carefully, even if you don't understand what he wants: he needs to know that his thoughts and feelings matter to you. Help him recognize emotions, calling them by name: "I know you are sad because you have to say goodbye to your playmates." And accept his emotions without judgment, for example without making fun of him because he is afraid of the dark and "you are a big child, it's ridiculous to still be afraid". Instead, learn to share your emotions with him too, so that he does the same.

8. Avoid comparisons

Phrases like "why aren't you good? Look at Luigi how good he is" do nothing but reduce the child's self-esteem. But even too positive praise can damage him: telling him "you are the best of all" risks embarrassing him, because it is not easy to live with the burden of being "the best". It is good to appreciate the child for the qualities that make him a unique individual, instead of comparing them with those of others.

9. Offer support

If the child is frustrated because he does not succeed in activities in which his friends are good, offer him your support and emphasize one of his qualities: "Luigi plays well at ball, but you draw beautiful drawings". This is to teach them that everyone has their own weaknesses and strengths, and that you don't need to be perfect to be good about yourself.

10. Encourage him

Every child needs that those who love him send him signals that say "I believe in you, I see that you are working hard, do your best". Encouraging means recognizing not only the results but also the progress. If he's learning to tie shoelaces, don't tell him "no, not like this: let me do it". Instead, tell him "You're working hard: you're almost there." Attention, however: although subtle, there is a difference between praise ("You did it") and encouragement ("I'm proud of you"): the former rewards the activity, the latter the person . So, with too much praise and little encouragement, the child will think he was "good" only if he did it perfectly. Instead he also counts the commitment. (Read also performance anxiety, 7 practical tips)

Read also: 10 PRACTICAL ways to educate children about autonomy

Questions and answers

How to improve children's self-esteem? 

It is important to know that a child's self-esteem grows if the parent loves him not for what he does, but without conditions.

Is giving rules to children important? 

Yes. Make reasonable rules for your child, and make sure they don't change. Knowing that some rules are set in stone will make him feel safe,

  • esteem
  • shyness
  • 3-5 children years
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