As parents we want our children to be happy and grow up to be successful individuals. Developing and nurturing a healthy self-esteem in children is key in raising successful individuals. I am often asked by parents in my practice how to best nurture a strong sense of self-esteem in their children. The best start is to understand the definition of self-esteem and the steps one can take to promote a healthy sense of self.
What is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem is how a person sees him or herself. Basically it’s a person’s self-worth. It develops in infancy and grows until adulthood. If a child has good self-esteem, he or she will tend to be more open to challenges and can handle conflict better. A child with low self-esteem can easily become frustrated and anxious when faced with problems. Parents play an important role in modeling and assisting their children develop a healthy sense of self.
How do you know if your child has healthy self-esteem?
According to Myers (2011) a child with healthy self-esteem:
- Has good frustration tolerance: This can be observed when your little one is trying to take off his shoes or thread a bead on a string.
- Has a good handle on his or her feelings: When your child is able to verbalize what he or she is feeling.
- Takes in accomplishments: When your child is able to recognize that he or she did well on an activity or project.
- Attempts new challenges: This can be observed when your child is willing to try new things without much encouragement.
- Asserts self with peers: When your child is able to ask for what he or she need such as “I am not willing to share my snack today” or “I don’t like it when…”
- Helps others: When your child shows kindness towards others and assists others.
Myers (2011) also notes that a child with low self-esteem:
- Tends to avoid challenges: This is observed when a child does not want to participate in new activities.
- Blames other for failures: This can be seen when a child does not want to take responsibility for his or her actions.
- Feels unloved: This can be observed when a child makes statements such as “Nobody loves me”
- Has low frustration tolerance: This is observed when your child becomes upset easily and frequently.
- Follows peers: When a child engages in behavior he or she knows is wrong but does it because his or her friends are doing it.
- Makes negative self-statements: This is observed when a child makes statements such as “I can’t do anything right”
Now that we know a little bit about what self-esteem is and how it looks in children, we will focus our next blog on providing guidance for nurturing healthy self-esteem in children.
Dr. Tina Alexandrian is a licensed clinical psychologist at the Rowan Center for Behavioral Medicine. She has extensive experience in working with children, adults, and families. Her approach to psychotherapy involves a combination of cognitive-behavioral and solution-focused methods. She has cultivated an eclectic style that is individually tailored and effective for treating a multitude of emotional and psychological problems. Having the opportunity to be exposed to many different cultures in her personal life has led Dr. Alexandrian to gain a deep level of understanding and appreciation for the impact of cultural factors in the therapeutic process. She has worked extensively with individuals and families from diverse backgrounds and practices therapy in Armenian and Spanish as well as English.
Please feel free to call the Rowan Center for Behavioral Medicine for further information 818-446-2522 or email
Myers, R. (2011, September). Self-esteem: How to help children and teens develop positive self-image. Retrieved from http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-psychology/self-esteem/