Can You Teach Self-Esteem to Your Kids?

silhouette of a child sitting in the front

You already know your children are amazingly capable, intelligent, and strong — but do they know this about themselves? Low self-esteem can hinder a child’s motivation and ability to succeed in life; no matter how much you believe in your kids, it’s important that they believe in themselves.

Self-esteem can’t exactly be taught in the traditional sense, but parents can cultivate abilities in their children that boost self-worth.

This can seem like quite a daunting task – but it’s easier than you might think. Research has found that fathers especially play an integral role in how their children perceive themselves throughout life, making it vital that dads know how to encourage healthy self-esteem in their daughters and sons.

Below you will find three of the most effective ways fathers can build self-esteem in their children; while also allowing them to make necessary mistakes on the road to adulthood.

Encourage Varied Interests

By allowing your children to pursue the interests they find valuable in their own development, you can help them build confidence and feelings of growth and accomplishment. Mastering hobbies, sports, and other interests outside of school is essential for your children to develop pride in themselves. This doesn’t necessarily mean your kids should participate in a slew of extracurricular activities; self-guided ones are just as important. Think of the satisfaction of achieving a goal you’ve set for yourself — it often feels much more fulfilling than meeting goals set for you by others.

By reaching individually-set goals and completing tasks on their own timeline, children learn the significance of accomplishment. Below are just a few examples of beneficial, self-motivated activities children may find fulfilling:

  • Finishing a chapter of a book before bedtime each night
  • Reaching a desired level within a favorite video game
  • Learning how to recreate a family recipe
  • Putting together a dance/ballet routine

Have a conversation with your kids, to find out what they’re most interested in, and encourage them to pursue those things.

Allow For Healthy Risk Taking

Parents who always rescue their kids from failure are doing a disservice to the natural development of their children; failure can actually prove a positive motivator. When adults fail, we are presented with the unique opportunity to solve problems on the fly, by managing the consequences of a situation – the same applies for kids. Without the knowledge gained from these circumstances, children are less likely to independently problem-solve later in life, through challenging situations that will inevitably arise. Instead, they may end up feeling paralyzed, lost, or devastated when otherwise manageable failures occur.

Allow your kids to take some (appropriate) risks, and give them the space to fail. When they do, be there for them — not to pick up the pieces for them, but to assist and support them in figuring out how to manage on their own. By making clear that your love is unconditional, even in the face of failure, children are able to feel a sense of acceptance, and learn that the end result isn’t the reason for your approval. This process offers an essential life lesson that kids can only learn from experience: you will fail at some things in life, and you will be okay. Later in life, when your children face any challenge, their self-esteem won’t be instantly shattered.

Foster Responsibility through Chores

One of the most effective ways to build healthy self-esteem in children is to teach independence by assigning chores. Whether by taking out the trash, walking the dog, or doing the dishes, studies show that children who are taught the value of chores have more likelihood of success as adults.

Remember, not all chores should come with a reward, such as an allowance. It’s important for children to understand that some tasks are simply part of living in a family unit; everyone pitches in to accomplish more together.

Listen to Them

It’s easy as a parent to act prescriptively – meaning that parents like to offer up wise words for their kids, often without really listening to what their children need. If it seems like your child is going through a rough patch, allow him or her to talk with you about it. Instead of trying to fix it right away, allow him or her to come up with ideas for improving the situation. Even when your kids come to you specifically asking advice, try to empower them to suggest solutions on their own. You might even brainstorm together, and discuss which ideas seem most appropriate, and why. This will teach your kids ownership over their own circumstances, and it will give them the confidence to overcome any challenge — whether you’re there at the time or not.

You may not be able to simply teach your kids self-esteem, the way you might teach them to tie their shoes or write their names. But, there’s a lot you can do to help them reach a place of healthy self-esteem. When you instill in your children the benefits of good decision-making, character-building appreciation, and the power of loving oneself, your kids are more likely to lead happy, healthy, and confident lives.

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