26 Jun 2022

Dr Eddie Column: Help to build your child’s self-esteem

Tips on building your child's self-esteem
Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves. How we behave often reflects these feelings.

Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves. How we behave often reflects these feelings.

The development of good self-esteem is important to the happiness, security and success of children and teenagers.

For example, a child or teenager with high self-esteem will:

• Act independently

• Assume responsibility

• Handle peer pressure appropriately

• Attempt new tasks and challenges

• Handle positive and negative emotions

• Take pride in his/her accomplishments

On the other hand, those with low self-esteem will:

• Avoid trying new things

• Feel unloved and unwanted

• Blame others for his/her own shortcomings

• Be unable to tolerate a normal level of frustration

• Not recognise his own talents and abilities

• Be easily influenced

Parents, guardians, grandparents, uncles & aunts can play an important role in helping a child to develop greater confidence. Your words have a great impact on how the child or teenfeels about himself.

7 tips to Improving Children’s Self Esteem

Be generous with praise

Let your child know when he is doing something well eg. “ I really like the way you tidied your room”, “You are really good at playing soccer”, “You are very kind and caring”.

Help your child to focus on their strengths by pointing out to them all the things they can do. Praise the small steps and the effort made.

Teach positive self-statements

Self-talk is very important. What we think influences how we feel, and in turn how we behave. So it is important to teach your child to be positive about how they talk to themselves. ie “I can solve this problem, if I just keep trying” “It’s OK that I didn’t win the game today, I tried my best”

Avoid criticism

Give feedback so something is learned. e.g. “Please speak quietly” rather than “Stop shouting” It is important to learn to use “I statements” rather then “You statements”. For example, “I would really like if you made your bed”, rather than “You never make your bed”

Encourage assertiveness

Encourage your child to ask for what they want assertively, pointing out that there is no guarantee that they will get it. e.g “Mom, I don’t like it when Tom scribbles on my copy when I am trying to do my homework. Can you please ask him to stop?” Praise them for being assertive. Let children settle their own disputes between siblings and friends alike.

Taking responsibility for feelings

Let your child know that they are responsible for their own feelings, and that they are not responsible for others’ feelings.

Avoid blaming children for how you feel.

Encourage hobbies

Support your child in developing hobbies/interests which they enjoy.

Encourage them to take part in a number of interests, so that they will have something for each season and will develop a wider network of skills and friends.

Show children that you can laugh at yourself

Show them that life doesn’t need to be serious all the time. Your sense of humour is important for their well-being.

Finally, enjoy your children. Hang out with them. Do things together as a family but also ensure that each parent has “one to one” time with each child regularly.


If you are organising a speaker or training for school, community, voluntary, sporting and work groups. Call Dr Eddie on 087 1302899 or visit

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