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Twelve Ways to Build your Child's Self-Esteem

Twelve Ways to Build your Child's Self-Esteem


Self-esteem is a very important ingredient for a successful and happy life. A person can be blessed with intelligence and talent but if he or she lacks self-esteem, this can be an obstacle in achieving success in a job, a relationship and in virtually every area of life.

The early years of a child's life are the foundation for a positive self-esteem.

As parents, we cannot control everything our child sees, hears or thinks, which will be contributing to his or her self-image. But there is still much that we could do. We have the child at the earliest years of his life; G‑d has given us a special gift--a new human being with a "clean slate." During those early years, what goes into the child’s mind is very impressionable. Parents are therefore provided with a unique, never-to-be-repeated opportunity to set up a "self-esteem bank account" in which the child will store many positive things about him or herself. In the years and decades to come, this "bank account" will balance out negative experiences, which are unavoidable.

So how do we endow our child's bank account? How can we, as parents, build up our child's self-esteem? The following are some suggestions:

  1. Show love and affection to your child. All our dealings with our children, starting from infancy, should be done with a lot of affection and love. A baby who was dealt with love and affection will get a subconscious feeling that s/he is worthy and important enough to be loved.

  2. Compliment your child. Give your child compliments as often as possible, whenever they do something right. Say, "I am very proud of you. You are very special. I like the way you have done it."

  3. Make your compliments credible. It is important, however, that the compliments be credible. Exaggerated compliments like, "You are the best in the world. You are the nicest person that ever lived" can actually be counter-productive. The child will develop an inflated ego, and that can affect his relationship with friends, which in the long run will have a negative effect on his or her self-esteem.

  4. Set goals for your child. The goal should be something attainable--to get dressed by herself, to get a certain mark on his next test. Set goals that are suited for the child's age and capabilities (setting a goal which is unattainable will have a negative effect). As the child works toward the goal, coach her along and compliment her success each step along the way. Once the child reaches the goal, compliment her achievement and reinforce her self-image as an achiever.

  5. Criticize the action, not the person. When the child does something negative, say to the child, "You are such a good and special child, you should not be engaging in such an activity," instead of saying, "you are a bad child."

  6. Validate your child's feelings. When your child suffers a blow to his self-esteem, it's important to validate his feelings. For example, if the child gets offended by a hurtful comment made by a friend or a teacher, say to the child, "Yes, you were offended by what that person said" or "you were offended by the fact that the other person doesn't like you." Only after the child feels that his feelings have been validated will he be open to you bolstering his self-esteem by pointing out the people who do like him, and the positive things that others have said about him.

  7. Be proud of your child. On a regular basis, we must remember to tell the child how fortunate and how proud we are to be her parents.

  8. Talk positively about your child in the presence of important people in his life, such as grandparents, teachers, friends etc.

  9. Never to compare your child to others, saying, "why aren’t you like Johnny?" When such comparisons are made by others, reassure your child that she is special and unique in her own way."

  10. Make sure that others dealing with your child know your child's strengths. At the beginning of the school year, speak with your child's teachers and tell them what your child's special strengths are and about the areas in which he or she excels, so that the teacher will have a positive outlook towards them and will continue to build on those strengths.

  11. Tell the child on a regular basis that you will love them unconditionally. When they fail, or do the wrong thing, remember to say to them, "You are special to me, I will always love you, no matter what!”

  12. Tend to your own self-esteem. You need to see yourself in a positive light. Parents who lack self-esteem will have difficulties bringing up a child with a high self-esteem. A good positive parent is a parent who knows that he or she is not perfect but values him or herself, while always trying to grow and improve.

Rabbi Yaakov Lieder has served as a teacher and principal, and in a variety of other educational positions, for more than 30 years in Israel, the U.S., and Sydney, Australia. He is the founder and director of the Support Centre to aid families struggling with relationship and child-rearing issues. Click here for more articles by Rabbi Lieder.
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Discussion (17)
February 16, 2015
Knowledge is power
You have to keep feeding your mind. Once you’ve learned something, no one can ever take it away. So whether it’s a new language, a new skill, or a new hobby – sign up for something this week that will broaden your horizons, skill level and happiness. Learning something you can be proud of and provides you a weekly dose of happiness is an immediate confidence booster and the recipe for success.
November 20, 2014
Self-esteem is a certain way out to be shaped at early ages. Growing a life with self-trust is going to lead rest of the life with much efficacy and establishments. A child with confidence and self-respect can justify all the ways going through the best activities done. Showing them the love even in situations when they do mistakes, rather explaining them politely and tactfully their misdoings will be a sure inspiration for them to avoid such things the next time; tips provided herein are just amazing; appreciate!
Sagarika Sahana
April 30, 2014
I attended a workshop that showed that many people in prison have high self-esteem not low. So, self-esteem to me is not all there is to a kid's growth in righteousness or healthy living. T
April 9, 2014
Airport Taxi
Must agree that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw.
Airport Taxi
November 25, 2013
Giving them an opportunity to participate in specially designed self-esteem building activities can pay off in kids willingness to try new things.
Ashley Wells
October 24, 2013
I grew up with no self confidence. I had a tough childhood and I definitely didn't want that for my kids. So as they grew I sent them to a camp locally and had them involved in the performing arts and boy was it a boost!
New Jersey
March 29, 2013
Be positive and do things what you want.
Usually our self confidence hurts by criticism of others since our chilldhood.But i would like to tell something.First of all if somebody is trying to breakyou down don't get bothered with it.Repeat this activity few times and you will feel the change.Second if somebody is criticizing you then might be there some inaccuracy in you also(not of that extent explained by criticizer).So take it positively and enjoy it.
Also you can find out an amazing video to make yourself superconfident.
Just type on google "Your self confidence is your speciality" and check out the first link of youngnerves.
February 17, 2013
I'm a mother to an eight year old daughter, and I've struggled with low self esteem all my life. Your article is wonderfully written and exactly what I wish someone had taught me. I assure you it will be an important reference, helping me many years to come. Thank you (although an understatement) and God bless you.
Sincerely, L.Woodward-Florida
Lora Woodward
November 30, 2012
I thought it was great, simplistic, logical and got more out of reading it than I can say, so thank you very very much
December 12, 2010
Thank you
This coming December 14, Tuesday, I'll be sharing with parents and teachers regarding parenting. Oh i love this article, it will help a lot as my point of reference in giving importance to family life strengthening Thank you and God bless..
Elepert N. Labasan
General Santos, Philippines