Your Child's Mental Health: Building Self-Esteem in Children

Building Self-Esteem in Children

Most parents have heard that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" and it's especially true with self-esteem in children. All children need love and appreciation and thrive on positive attention. Yet, how often do parents forget to use words of encouragement such as, "that's right," "wonderful," or "good job"? No matter the age of children or adolescents, good parent-child communication is essential for raising children with self-esteem and confidence.

Self-esteem is an indicator of good mental health. It is how we feel about ourselves. Poor self-esteem is nothing to be blamed for, ashamed of, or embarrassed about. Some self-doubt, particularly during adolescence, is normal—even healthy—but poor self-esteem should not be ignored. In some instances, it can be a symptom of a mental health disorder or emotional disturbance.

Parents can play important roles in helping their children feel better about themselves and developing greater confidence. Doing this is important because children with good self-esteem:

Words and actions have great impact on the confidence of children, and children, including adolescents, remember the positive statements parents and caregivers say to them. Phrases such as "I like the way you" or "You are improving at" or "I appreciate the way you" should be used on a daily basis. Parents also can smile, nod, wink, pat on the back, or hug a child to show attention and appreciation.

What else can parents do?

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration ©2015


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