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?

The Gift of Self-Esteem

The more parenting articles I read each week, the more I begin see yet another shift in the way people view parenting.  There’s a bit of a negative spin out there right now, and has me concerned.

Twice in the last week I’ve read articles (in popular magazines) stating that we, as parents, spend too much time with our children.  We are teaching them to depend on us to meet their every need; these authors would have us believe.  We are not teaching them to become independent.

One author went so far as to say that the past focus on building self-esteem was a waste.  That we can’t, in fact, build self-esteem in our children.

It breaks my heart to read these articles.

When bullying is at a record high and children, very young children, are taking their lives because of it, how can we possibly make the claim that too much parenting is to blame?  How can we argue against setting our children on the path toward high self-esteem?

The parent/child relationship lays the foundation for how children will interact with others in the future.  Bonding with our children plays an integral role in developing trust and security.  Demonstrating empathy teaches our children to empathize with others.  Playing with them when they’re young and listening to them when they’re older shows them that we care about them, that we enjoy spending time with them, and that they are important to us.

Being there for them, no matter the circumstances, teaches them the meaning of unconditional love.

And that nonsense about our inability to help build self-esteem in our children?  Is just that: Nonsense…

Please stop by Mommy Moment to continue reading.

6 Steps for Building Self-Esteem

Building self-esteem can be a lifelong project.  It’s natural to have some traits that we love and others that we wish we could change.  It’s important to set personal goals and try to master important life skills such as friendship, empathy, and understanding.  For children and adults.

While parents often approach me with concerns about helping their children become more assertive, they tend to gloss over self-esteem.  The truth is that having a healthy level of self-esteem is essential to becoming more assertive.  If you approach life with the belief that people value your thoughts and ideas and accept you for who you are, you will be more likely to assert those thoughts and ideas.

This can be a difficult task for kids.  Peer pressure is everywhere, and can begin at age 5 (sometimes even sooner).  You might find your child asking to sign up for all kinds of classes and sports that you’re certain she won’t like simply because that’s what her friends are doing.  Don’t fret.  This is all part of “norming”, or becoming part of a peer group.  It doesn’t mean that she can’t assert her needs or doesn’t believe in herself, it’s just a very normal part of friendship building.

There are, however, steps you can take to help your child build a healthy self-esteem.  Below are a few tips and strategies to help your child along the path to a healthy self-concept:

1.    Listen & Encourage:  Young children have all kinds of ideas.  Creativity and imagination are on their side.  Create some special time each day where you can check in with your child and really listen to her thoughts.  Encourage her ideas.  Help her problem solve ways to reach her goals.  Riley became fixated on having a lemonade stand at one point.  With Liam’s nap schedule and Sean’s work schedule, we’re not quite there yet.  But she had big plans.  So Sean helped her set up her own private stand at the front door, they made some lemonade, and she sold it to his two friends that were picking him up.  It was great fun and great for her self-esteem.

2.    Find a Niche:  Even though your child will likely want to follow the crowd to some degree, help him find his own niche too.  Some kids love sports and the social interaction that team sports provide, while others prefer a quiet environment with 1:1 interaction.  Try out a new class each season.  Many classes offer a free trial day.  Take advantage of that.  Talk about the likes and dislikes of each class so that you can help your child find the best fit for her.  It can take some time to find the right place for your child.  Riley really comes alive in cooking and art classes.  She loves soccer, but doesn’t show an interest in any other group sports.  Give it time and keep the communication open.  Note:  Try not to force activities and sports…some kids just aren’t ready.

3.    Special Time:  We often talk about creating special time with young kids, particularly when new siblings arrive, but big kids need special time too.  Kids are constantly learning and growing and, despite their need for independence, they need to check in with mom and dad too.  Create a weekly date with your big kid.  Just you and her (or him).  Let your child choose the activity, shut down the outside world, and just have fun being together.  Try not to force big conversations, as this might shut your child down.  Let your child lead the date, conversations included.  We know how important our children are to us, but they need to know it too.  They need to feel like they are important, loved, and respected.

4.    Faces of Me:  Many children show different personalities in different environments.  Riley talks non-stop at home, but is very quiet in school.  It’s very common to see different personalities emerge at home, on play dates, and at school.  Cut some faces out of construction paper and label them home, school, art class, play dates, etc.  Have your child draw faces to depict how they feel they appear in those environments.  On the back, write adjectives of your child’s choosing to describe how he interacts in those environments.  Talk about similarities and differences between environments.  This activity helps children understand how they relate to others and can help them find the environment where they feel the most comfortable.

5.    Billboard of Me:  It can be very hard to describe your positives.  Many adults struggle to answer the question, “what are your best traits?”  Imagine trying to do that as a child?  Get a large poster board and have your child write his name in the center.  Tell him to draw pictures of and use words that describe his best traits and skills.  Explain that billboards are often used to get people interested in something like a movie, store, restaurant, etc.  Have him create a billboard that showcases his best attributes.  Talk about all of those positives.  This is a great activity for helping kids recognize what is great about them.  Some might struggle to get started, offer a few suggestions if they seem stumped.  Note:  Lego building is a perfectly wonderful skill to advertise…you get the point.

6.    Compliment Jar:  Life is busy.  It’s easy to lose sight of the small moments of greatness when the rat race has us running.  Get a large glass jar and place it on your kitchen counter.  Have sticky notes and markers handy at all times.  Explain that this “Compliment Jar” is there to share good thoughts with one another throughout the day.  It doesn’t have to be something huge, just a nice thought you had about another family member.  Read the compliments aloud during a family meal at the end of each week and start fresh the next week.  It always feels good to get a compliment, but for kids it can really change the way they feel about themselves.  “I’m proud of Riley for helping Liam at the park today” will put a smile on Riley’s face every single time.

Building self-esteem takes time.  The sooner you start to focus on this, the better off your kids will be in the long run.

How do you focus on self-esteem?