Building Self-Esteem as a Family

Building self-esteem is a lifelong journey that requires daily maintenance.  It’s not as simple as doing what you do best every single day because there will always be obstacles along the way.


Bad days happen at every age and every stage.


But helping your children build a healthy sense of self is so very important.


When children have high self-esteem they are more motivated when it comes to academics, social interactions, and athletics.  They also have better coping skills and can handle the ups and downs of everyday life with a bit more finesse.


Families can do a lot together to build the self-esteem of each family member.  Families that are there for one another provide a safe place for children to express their feelings and follow their dreams.


Families that truly put family first teach children to be supportive, kind, and caring.  More often than not, kids will take those traits and apply them to the outside world as well.


Below are some tips to help your family focus on healthy self-esteem.


Be Available:  Life is busy and kids have a lot to say.  It’s easy to redirect the kids to a different activity in order to create just a little bit of quiet time, but sometimes that sends the wrong message.  The single best thing that you can do to help build your child’s self-esteem is to listen to him.  Kids know when we tune out.  They know when we are distracted.  Be emotionally present when your child needs to talk.  Chances are, he has something very important to say (even if it’s buried under 17 stories about the playground).


Build an Emotional Vocabulary:  You taught them to sing their ABC’s.  You taught them to ride a bike.  You taught them to button their shirts and tie their shoes.  But did you remember to teach them to identify their feelings?  Many children fail to identify how they truly feel simply because they don’t have the language to accurately express their feelings.  Make a feelings faces poster and teach them to recognize their feelings.  Emotions often come with physical complaints.  The next time your child starts complaining about headaches, tummy aches, sore toes, and hangnails…reach for that poster and encourage your child to verbalize how he truly feels.


Find Individual Strengths:  Younger siblings love to follow in the footsteps of their older siblings.  It’s a way to join and strengthen the bond between them.  But all children are individuals.  Help each child find his/her strengths and interests and spend equal amounts of time on each.  Not every child wants to play sports, and not every child can sit down at a piano and play a song.  Teach your children to cheer each other on and try to avoid sibling competition as much as possible.


Join with Each Child:  Kids need special time, even when they declare themselves far too old for such a silly concept.  When they have 1:1 time with each parent, they have the opportunity to bond, communicate, and strengthen the child/parent relationship.  Join with your child – let him determine the activity and spend some time truly getting to know your child.  Even if that means playing a video game or two…


Engage in Family Activities:  As children get older and extra curricular activities start to determine what they family will do on any given day, families can start to feel scattered.  Plan monthly family days.  Take turns choosing the family activity or outing.  Consider doing a few family community service days per year, as helping others is known to increase good feelings.  Quality time together as a family plays an integral role in building family self-esteem.  Make it a priority.


Healthy self-esteem starts at home.  When you help your child find his strengths and learn to verbalize his feelings, you give him the skills to find success in the world around him.


How do you help your children build their self-esteem?

About Katie

Katie Hurley is a Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychotherapist and Parenting Expert in Los Angeles, CA. She works in private practice in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, writes for PBS Parents, Washington Post Parents, and the Huffington Post. She is the author of "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World" (Tarcher/Penguin, 2015) and "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" (Penguin Random House, 2018)


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