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John Fagan

Let’s talk about our kid’s Self-Esteem. Which is slightly different than Self-Confidence.

Self-esteem refers to whether you appreciate and value yourself. Your self-esteem develops and changes as a result of your life experiences and interactions with other people.

Self-confidence is your belief in yourself and your abilities. This can change depending on the situation.

So how, on earth, do we help to develop a STRONG sense of self-esteem in our kids? I mean, I can not think of something worse than my son or daughter NOT loving themselves. My heart hurts even entertaining the idea.

Here are some ideas, tips and “go to’s” to help you kids develop self-esteem.

1) (And this one is a hard one for most parents today) TAKE A STEP BACK!

As we hover over our kids, trying to keep them safe. Trying to keep them from scraping their knees or their feelings being hurt, we are robbing them of incredibly valuable experiences. We have to let them experiment. Let them take risks. Allow them to problem solve. Allow them to weigh and make their own choices. How can we expect our little ones to have the confidence to go out into the world, not having allowed them to risk, problem solve and make decisions for themselves?!

2) Don’t “Over-Praise” your kids.

Like we have talked about before…our kids have a highly sensitive “B.S. Radar.” The more we “Over-Praise” them, the more they will not believe any praise coming from us. Plus, we are LOWERING THE BAR of expectations for them. If we keep telling Sally how wonderfully she is doing, we are essentially limiting her desire to “push herself” to higher expectations. But, confidence comes from trying - failing - trying again - and eventually succeeding.


3) (Here’s one that can go really well…or create a brain aneurysm) Let them HELP AROUND THE HOUSE!

So here is one that might just try your patience, but give them chores to do around the house. No matter how old they are…toddlers even. They need opportunities to show competence and feel that they are contributing to the family. You will live if you ask them to clean the windows…(and, they do a terrible job and it looks worse than before they cleaned them - I mean it looks like a Troll sneezed all over the windows)…and you have to do it again later. THEY will get the feeling of contribution and confidence.

4) Make it ABSOLUTELY clear your love is UNCONDITIONAL.

Let them know that - NO MATTER WHAT - you love them. No matter if they fail. No matter if they make a really bad decision. No matter if they quite. No matter if they intentionally do something bad.

If they think that your love is connected to success, or beauty, or good grades, or winning….what happens to their self-esteem when they fail, or aren’t the most beautiful, or get a bad grade, or lose??

Now, that doesn’t mean we have to “like” bad decisions, quitting, or intentionally doing something bad. That is not acceptable behavior, but if they “KNOW” you love them, they will be able to course-correct more quickly.

5) Encourage them to pursue their interests - TO THE END.

Here is another one that might ask you to “stretch your patience muscle.”

Encourage them to really go after what they are interested in. If that is swimming, or BMX racing, or video game playing, or learning to speak Klingon.

BUT, make sure they see it through. Now, that may be one season (of swimming), or beating all the levels of a video game, or going to all the Klingon speaking classes you buy. You can’t let them quite if they decide they “don’t like it.” before seeing it through to the end.

Who knows…you might just have a future college professor in the art of Klingon.


Okay, I know there may be a lot to take in.

But, let’s recap:

Take a step back. Give them the freedom to fail.

Don’t “over-praise” them. Let them expand their expectations.

Let them help around the house.

Let them know you love them UNCONDITIONALLY.

Encourage them to pursue their interests - to the end.