It’s no surprise to learn that self-esteem can affect your mental health. But did you know self-esteem helps you take risks in learning and to bounce back after failure or adversity?1

It’s never too early to start building self-esteem

It takes a village to instill confidence in children. Teachers, parents, family and friends can make a difference. Start by recognizing the signs. Here are just a few ways that children express low self-esteem:

  • “I’m stupid.” Children who put down their own intelligence and abilities may be weighed down by low self-esteem. They may unfairly compare themselves to others and think they fall short. 
  • “I can’t do this.” Feeling defeated before even attempting something and then quitting before even starting are also signs of low self-esteem. Self-esteem can be achieved through achievements, even small ones, such as completing a school project.1
  • “No one likes me.” Low self-esteem means doubting your own self-worth. If you don’t like yourself, why would anyone else like you? As a result, a child with low self-esteem could be pushing away potential friendships and positive relationships.

Self-conscious or self-confident? It all depends on self-esteem

The good news is that there are many ways parents, teachers and loved ones can help build self-esteem in children and help them become confident adults. Here are positive responses you can never say too often:

  • “Good job!” When possible, give specific and genuine positive feedback on effort rather than outcome. For example, “You made a lot of progress on that project in just an hour,” or “The opening paragraph of your story is really strong.”
  • “You can do it!” Point out signs of progress, even if they’re small. “Your piano practice is paying off. You played that piece beautifully.”
  • “Everybody makes mistakes.” Remind your child that nobody’s perfect. We all learn from mistakes…and get better at whatever we’re attempting to do.
  • “Be proud of yourself.” Yes, tell children you are proud of them. But more importantly, encourage children to be proud of themselves. Let them know it’s not just OK to feel good about who they are, it’s everything!

Make an appointment with a therapist to discover more strategies for supporting your child’s mental health.

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Published May 2, 2023


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