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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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Helen USA May 19, 2017

Self-confidence gives us a lot in life, to achieve our goals and to reach new heights, I recommend this article

1. Take an honest look and measure your capabilities.

You will certainly understand it is not so bad, and many of your so-called weak spots are not significant. And if there are any serious weaknesses, such as anger, selfishness, the good news is you identified them and can wipe them out. When you win, it will raise your self-esteem for sure.

2. Never diminish the qualities you have.

Maybe a young person will consider it insignificant to be able to lift something really heavy, or bake delicious pies, or writing a paper in less than 20 minutes, but it all matters. Believe the fact someone will be amazed at your talent. Find in yourself those human merits you can be proud of, if there is no any, raise them. It can be sensitivity to others, generosity, sense of humor, neatness, kindness, tolerance. They will ec Reply

Anonymous Henderson 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.

Sagarika Sahana 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! Reply

Anonymous Michigan 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 Reply

Airport Taxi karachi April 9, 2014

Airport Taxi Must agree that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw. Reply

Ashley Wells 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. Reply

Anonymous New Jersey October 24, 2013

Boost! 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! Reply

Anonymous 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. Reply

Lora Woodward Florida February 17, 2013

Perfecto! 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 Reply

Anonymous 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 Reply

Elepert N. Labasan General Santos, Philippines 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.. Reply

Sarah Green Afula, Israel November 3, 2010

self esteem I love your 12 points to raise a child with self esteem. However, I disagree with point number 11 where parents are supposed to tell their children that their love is unconditional - there is no such thing as unconditional love. Human love is based on certain conditions, and even G-d's love towards us is, otherwise he would give us the same despite our actions, not based on them.

The religious especially have very conditional love for their children: if they married out they would sit shiva on them for example, how "loving." To tell the child the love is unconditional is raising them on a lie. Reply

MH Phoenix, AZ via February 20, 2009

Self -esteem If you apply this 12 step guide, your child won't need some other 12 step guide (or program) in the future! Very helpful, concise and to the point! I'll keep it posted on my fridge-Thanks! Reply

Stephanie Schiffman Marushia Virginia Beach, VA February 3, 2009

There is a difference... To those who post that self-esteem is the problem...

I think many popping Prozac now were raised to have good self esteem in the secular world - without religious influence. They also were probably told they are the smartest or the best instead of just focusing on strengths.

If we teach our children to have good self-esteem while setting goals and limits and fostering a relationship with Hashem it is a positive thing.

I encourage my son's self-esteem but he understands that it is G-d given and it is his responsibility to use his gifts to better the world and honor Hashem. Reply

Kara NYC, NY July 10, 2007

a response to YH YH, self esteem is what helps someone to be humble. Moshe, who is called the most humble man on the face of the earth, knew how great he was or else he couldn't do what he needed to. Great Rabbis know exactly how great they are. The difference is they realize how great G-d is, and realize that all of it comes from Him. Read Rabbi Twerski's books on self esteem- it is essential to understand what being humble is all about- our Rabbis say that this middah the most essential- the root of all other necessary middos Reply

rita aziz great neck, ny/ usa March 12, 2006

i think that was a great article. parents should try their best to do those things. Reply

YH March 8, 2006

be a "shfal ruach" great comment eli federman!

and how about Rabbi Lieder telling us how the mishna's injunction that we be "shfal ruach-lowly before all" fits in with building self esteem!

Is esteeming oneself the necessary ingredient in having a happy life or maybe G-d-esteem is where it's at?

the generation focused on SELF-esteem is also the generation popping Prozac and that keeps therapists quite busy, maybe there's a message in this? Reply

eli federman milwaukee, wi March 6, 2006

How does the Torah fit in? Great; solid and profound parenting adivce indeed, but where does Judaism fit into the picture?
I could get this advice from parenting magazines. Reply

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