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Children's self-esteem and self confidence

Posted on 1 January 1970

Child

It is so important to nurture children's self-esteem and to enhance their self confidence during their early years. As they grow, their emotional wellbeing will depend on how they have been cared for mentally, physically, emotionally and empathetically. Children's mental and emotional health problems can be managed and dealt with. Children learn how to manage their issues with resilience, using coping mechanisms and tried and tested strategies.

  1. Let your children take risks: First of all you have to step back and let your children make mistakes. If you are always his "saviour" whenever he has a problem he will never learn how to tackle his own problems and responsibilities and his self-esteem and self confidence will crumble.
  2. Try not to over-praise your children: It is good to congratulate and tell your children that he is an unique and smart human being but it is important to take into account that this needs to be measured. We have to let your children be aware of their skills and abilities but we have to let them know also that there are more people as good as he is, and we are all different and unique, not better than anyone.
  3. Give your children tiny tasks to do: Make sure you adapt the tasks to their developmental and chronological age. This can be started since they can walk and talk with little tasks. The sooner we start the most independent and self-confident they will become.
  4. Let him choose between options: It is recommended that as parents we will let our children choose between two options. This is going to help them build self confidence and be aware of the consequences of their options. If they know how to make good choices their self-esteem and also their life when they grow up will be much better.
  5. Establish rules and be strict: A child needs the help of and adult to be regulated and to learn how to behave according to the social standards. It is crucial that he knows that some rules cannot be changed. For example; if he is meant to have his sandwich at the kitchen you cannot let him eat all around the house, or if he is meant to collect his laundry you should not let him leave all the dirty clothes all over the floor. Just be clear and persistent but always explaining your children why he must do those tasks.
  6. Congratulate your children for all the positive things he achieves: It does not matter if it is meant to be like that (like for example getting good marks at school). It is essential to let your children know what they did good. Try to be specific, instead of saying "You did very well!" say "Thank you for waiting patiently in the queue"
  7. Do not compare your children with others (especially with his brothers or sisters!): If you do that he will probably feel embarrassed and envy of the child he is compared to.It is not good to put such pressure on a child, better to accept him as he is, an unique human being with his strengths and weaknesses and not perfect but still a wonderful person.
  8. Listen carefully to your child: He needs to know that his opinions, feelings and ideas are valuable and good enough to deserve be listened to. Help him be comfortable with his emotions "I understand you are sad because you have to say goodbye to your classmates". If you accept his emotions without judging him, you are showing him that what he says it is important. And also, if you share your own feelings, he will feel more confident about showing his own.
  9. Make time to be together: This point is related to the last one. Try to be with your child as much as you can, let him know that he is an essential part in your life. Among everything what a child really needs is to feel loved and happy with his parents or guardians. Try to have a quality time with him and leave you phone aside for a moment to enjoy a little chat, play or hike with your child.
  10. Improve your own self-esteem and self confidence: As parent you need to be well prepared for helping your children. If your confidence is poor your child will feel it and it will be more difficult to help your children improve their own confidence. A good parent knows that he is not perfect but he values himself for who he is, trying always to improve his emotional well-being and becoming a better person.

Examples of games for training self confidence and self-esteem are:

  • Role-playing: Excellent for developing social skills and abilities, and improve children's self-esteem. Take advantage of this game and praise his social, emotional and personal abilities.
  • One-to-one time with parent and child through play, will empower young person
  • The Star Game: Sit all in a circle the participants will have star stickers. They will have to give one star sticker for each positive thing they say about the participants. The key of this game is to think about what we say to the others, what we are told and how do we feel. Finished the game is important to ask to the children what they liked most about the game, what least and how did they feel during the activity.

Written by Cristina Rey Lopez. Clinical and Educational Psychologist.

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