How can I help my child with their self-esteem?

Everyone has times when they feel good about themselves, and times when they feel a little worse. Self-esteem plays an important part in being able to see ourselves in a positive light more often.

If you think your child has low self-esteem, it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong as a parent. The important thing to remember is that you can support them to feel more positive.

How you can help your child

Every child is different and the things that will help them with their self-esteem will be different for each child depending on their personality, their relationship with you and why their self-esteem might be low. Here are some things you can try:

  • Let them know how much you love them and appreciate them. Tell them something every day that you like about them such as, “I love seeing your smile when you come through the door,” or “thank you for helping clear the table, it’s really helpful.”
  • Show them what healthy self-esteem looks like. Try not to talk negatively about yourself or your own body or the bodies of others in front of your children as they are likely to pick up on this.
  • Show them how to set small challenges for themself and praise them when they achieve it to help them feel pleased about something they have done. Learn to celebrate small wins in the family.
  • Praise them for taking part and trying new things rather than valuing them achieving the best results.
  • Show them that it’s okay to make mistakes and mistakes are for learning from – we learn better when we make a mistake. This helps children less fearful of making them.
  • Talk to them about being assertive with other people.
  • Encourage them to recognise things about themselves they like. They can use a diary to boost self-esteem.
  • Do fun things together. The more we enjoy ourselves the better we feel about ourselves.
  • Encourage them to help other people. This supports learning new skills, meeting new people and feeling good about helping others in need. This might be a friend or family member or volunteering locally.
  • Teach them how to change negative thinking patterns. Rise Above has helpful video for young people to teach them how to deal with unhelpful thoughts.
If your child’s self-esteem is making them feel low a lot, see our advice on low mood. Helping your child build positive self-esteem will take time. Be gentle, but keep supporting them.
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This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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