Building Self-Esteem in Children: Tips for Encouragement and Praise

Raising children with healthy self-esteem is key for their development and success later in life. As their parent, you play an integral role in nurturing their confidence and sense of self-worth. With consistent encouragement, meaningful praise and leading by example, you can equip them with the tools they need to believe in themselves. 

Focus on Strengths and Accomplishments

Whether you’re already a parent or considering becoming a foster carer, make it a habit to notice areas where your child naturally excels or shows particular talent. Perhaps they demonstrate special ability with art, have an aptitude for numbers or show compassion for people in need. Draw attention to their gifts and achievements, no matter how small. Highlight what comes easily to them rather than where they struggle, so they associate positive feelings with their inherent strengths.  

Offer Specific, Rather Than Generic, Praise

While it’s important to cheer your child on with encouragement like “Great job!” make sure to balance general affirmations with specific examples of what they did well. Get into the habit of not just telling them “Good work” but specifically what you admired about their work. 

Maybe it’s their artistic flair, mathematical reasoning, creative flair or sporting technique that stands out. The more details you can give, the more understood and valued they will feel. Vague praise can ring empty over time.

Praise the Process, Not Just the Outcome

In our achievement-focused society, it’s easy to zero in on the end results and gloss over effort. While outcomes are important markers of progress, emphasising the process is key for self-esteem. More than the A grade or the trophy, highlight the dedication that paved the way.  

Commend your child when you observe them demonstrating positive character traits like diligence, patience, persistence and integrity. These process-focused building blocks are invaluable for their future, above and beyond any one achievement.  

Encourage Them to Challenge Themselves

Compare your child to no one other than their own past performance. Avoid statements like “Your sister was doing algebra at your age” or “Your teammate scores more goals than you.” These kinds of comparisons demoralise more than motivate.

Instead, provide feedback about their own trajectory: “Remember how you struggled with decimals last year? Look how well you’re doing now!” Show them how their grit and effort is paying off in personal growth. 

In addition, encourage them to see challenges as opportunities to learn, rather than signs of inadequacy. Teach them to replace self-limiting thinking with constructive questions like “What can I learn here?” or “How can I improve?” This mental shift reduces frustration, fuels resilience and enables achievement.

Reinforce Confidence with Responsibility

Assigning meaningful responsibilities communicates trust in your child’s abilities. Have them walk the neighbour’s dog independently, tutor a younger student in their strong subject or do laundry on their own. Match jobs to their demonstrated strengths so confidence can grow.  

Appropriate autonomy combined with accountability breeds capable, self-assured kids. Be available for support while also communicating, “I know you can handle this, and I believe in you.” Independent wins reinforce their belief in themselves.

Raising self-assured children requires investing consistent time, care and emotional presence. Despite the distractions and pressures of modern life, make your child a priority.

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