Children and Self Esteem

The excitement of mastering a task can be seen in young babies as they roll over, grasp a cracker and stack blocks. These experiences ultimately provide a base for a feeling of oneself, of self-esteem.

When parents encourage a baby who has just learned a task by himself, they reinforce and encourage a good future self-image. As the child struggles and finally triumphs, the light in his eyes begins to glow.

Parents expectations and past experiences will influence whether they can afford to let a child experiment, get frustrated, and then make it on his own. It is this combination of freedom and encouragement that is necessary for increasing self-esteem.

To encourage a positive self image:

  • Convey a balance of freedom and support
  • Transmit a way of thinking as well as of problem solving. (These are picked up as child identifies with parents and the child’s self image begins to form)


A toddler playing with a puzzle. The parent sits back and watches the toddler try the pieces. The toddler turns the piece around and around. Finally he turns it in just the right way and it fits! He looks to his parent triumphantly. The parent says, “You did it yourself!”

7 Points to remember regarding your children and self-esteem:

  • 1. Reinforce him as he learns to recognize his own achievements.
  • 2. Don’t step in too early to show him or even to encourage him to keep trying.
  • 3. When he finally succeeds acknowledge that he did it!
  • 4. It can be difficult to sit back and allow a child his own frustration – time to fail before succeeding. But this is a critical part of the recognition of his success.
  • 5. Frustration can be a positive force for child’s learning about himself.
  • 6. There is a fine line between the challenge of frustration and overwhelming obstacles.
  • 7. Watch your child and observe him. Does he show curiosity? Persistence? The ability to succeed at a problem or defeat?