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Self-Esteem: Building Confident Kids 

“Low self-esteem and confidence” is a common reason parents bring their children in for therapy. But what exactly does that mean?

Self-esteem is essentially the extent to which people value themselves and how important they believe they are [1]. Positive self-esteem is feeling good about yourself [1] as well how much you like yourself, whether you feel worthwhile, and whether you believe in yourself [2]. Having good self-esteem provides children with the confidence to try new things and try again, do things that they may not be good at, and face challenges as opposed to avoiding them [2]. Given that self-esteem helps children learn and grow as a result of trying new things and facing challenges, it is evident that self-esteem is an important part of child development [2].  

Kids with positive self-esteem often feel confident and capable, value themselves as well as their abilities, they are proud of what they can do and try their best [1]. Kids with positive self-esteem are also more likely to have a growth mindset, which is when they are able to motivate themselves to try challenging things. At the same time, children with a growth mindset can cope with and learn from their mistakes [1]. These kids are also more inclined to stand up for themselves and ask for help when they need it [1]. 

Low Versus High Self-Esteem [1, 3]:

How Do I Raise Confident Kids?

There are various strategies that parents and caregivers can try in order to help build and instill positive self-esteem in their children. Pick a few strategies to try below and see what works best for you and your family. If a strategy does not work for you or your child, that’s ok! Some strategies might work for you, others won’t, and some might not work now but will work later down the road. Some strategies that you may want to try include:

  • Being a supportive, realistic, but not an overprotective parent [1] Asking teachers to be supportive and realistic [1]

  • Praise kids that teach them to be proud of their effort and accomplishments [1], examples include:

  • Don’t overpraise. For example, if your child did not have a great game and knows it, it is better to say “We all have off days, but I am so proud of you for not giving up. Tomorrow you will be back on your game!” [3]

  • Be sure to praise effort and don’t only focus on praising results or qualities (i.e., receiving a grade or being smart). Some examples include “I’m so proud of you for practicing your guitar!” or “You are getting better at these math problems!” or You are working so hard!”

  • Support your child in making friends, as having even one friend who accepts you can make a huge difference [1]

  • Help your child learn to do things by focusing on the process [3]. 

  • Be a role model to you kids. When you put in effort despite challenges and setbacks, you are setting a good example [3]

  • Don’t  be too harsh with criticism. Try to correct your child with patience and focus on what you want them to do next time [3]

  • Focus on their strengths and pay attention to what your child does well at [3]

  • Let kids help out at home or do a favor for someone else [3]

Key Takeaways

Self-esteem is extremely important for a child’s development. High self-esteem helps kids be more resilient, have confidence, try new things, face challenges, and become more independent [1,2,3]. There are many ways parents and caregivers can help build and improve confidence in children. It is important to see what strategies your child responds best to and what is most feasible for you and your family. 


[1] Cunningham, B. The importance of positive self-esteem for kids. Understood. Retrieved from

[2] Unknown. (2021). Self-esteem in children: 1-8 years. Raising Children: The Australian Parenting Website. Retrieved from

[3] Lyness, D. (2018). You child’s self-esteem. Kids Health. Retrieved from

Blog post written by Kassandra Burk and Dr. Andrea Stelnicki.

The information contained in this blog post is based on a narrative review of available literature. Some studies may have been unintentionally omitted. You are advised to speak with a healthcare professional to determine if the information is appropriate to your specific circumstances.


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