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At Kids Village, one of our core values is helping to build children’s self-esteem. We want them to be able to face the world knowing that with hard work and diligence, they can do anything. The self-esteem we want our children to learn is a deep self-esteem. It helps give children strength when they face challenges and helps them stay true to themselves when outside circumstances challenge their identity.

How to Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Without Spoiling Them

We want to build self-esteem in our kids, but we don’t want them to end up spoiled. It’s important, then, to distinguish between “self-esteem” and “vanity.” Self-esteem runs deeper than the shallow sense of vanity that often dwells on the mistakes of others rather than our success.

Praise them!

Praise is good, when done right. We’re all aware that positive reinforcement encourages our kids to repeat that good behavior. We also want our kids to know just how strong, smart, and capable we think they are. Don’t hold back on the praise, but avoid inflating their ego by comparing them to other kids: “you did so much better than ___ at that dance routine!” teaches your child that their success is directly related to the failure of others rather than a celebration of their own accomplishments. Teach them to use positive language about themselves and others.

Offer Constructive Criticism

In 2003, the U.S. Center for Mental Health Services stated that a good start, of course, is to be generous with praise for good behavior and good actions and to teach them to make positive self-statements. But that’s just the beginning. Avoid criticism that takes the form of ridicule or shame. Building high self-esteem means teaching your child that they can make mistakes, but they should learn from them. Instead of “You’re so messy!” try “Please go back to your room and pick up your toys.” Similarly, avoid absolutes like “you never do what I ask of you.” “Never” to a child often translates to “can’t.”

Teach them Empathy

Another step in the right direction is to instill a strong sense of empathy in your child. Make sure your child understands that their actions can impact others and that they have a responsibility to try to make sure their actions are uplifting. This, in turn, gives them confidence: they’ll see that they are capable enough to help others.

Teach them Responsibility

Help them set goals and learn new skills and hold them accountable to them. They’ll feel good about trying new things and showing you what they can do. Doing things that they’re good at will help them feel good about themselves, too. Don’t be afraid to challenge them, though. Setting goals teaches them that they should commit to working hard and can lead to the praise from you that they crave. Focus on praising effort, progress, and attitude rather than the immediate outcome. 

Practice Gratitude

Developing a strong sense of gratitude is linked to building empathy which helps them identify with their peers: they’ll be able to celebrate their accomplishments along with their own without putting anyone down; they know their self-worth. Also, an attitude of gratitude directly contradicts spoiling them. 

Be a Good Role Model

Put forth good effort into everything you do. Show them how rewarding it can be to work hard just by raking the leaves, cooking dinner, washing the car, or mopping the floor. Do it with the right attitude, too. Show your kids you can laugh at yourself. Life doesn’t need to be serious all the time. Being able to laugh at yourself shows them that you can let some things just roll off your shoulders.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, high self-esteem revolves around a good sense of self-worth that comes from a strong work ethic and an appreciation of others. Once established, it isn’t externally driven, but is rather an understanding that who you are is worthwhile. 


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