building self esteem in kids – setting kids up for success

“How ya doing cowboy.” I waited to see how Little M would respond. She tilted her head a bit and smiled at the well meaning farmer. “Good, but I’m a girl.” She waved, turned and skipped off to find her pumpkin. 

Little M oozes self esteem. She’s clear on who she is and what matters to her. Her inspiring attitude is in part natural… some people are just born confident. Some of her confidence though, I will take a little credit for. 😉

15 tips for building self esteem in kids - I love all of these ideas but especially love #4

Building Self Esteem in Kids


Dinner conversations are one way to really listen and engage with kids. It shows them that their lives are just as important as their parents.

Create fun, simple activities that you can do as a family. Once in a while (or always if you have a Little M) your kids might want to tweek your idea, or come up with their own. LET THEM! The lesson that their ideas are inspiring, possible and exciting for their parents is way more important than what you had planned… trust me.

Model self esteem

Oh boy… this can be a hard one! Kids are copy cats and they are paying far more attention to our actions than anything else. Imagine the impact of a parent who is strong and confident in themselves. Building self esteem in your kids can be simple as finding it yourself!

Squash the myth of perfection, let yourself and YOUR KIDS see that MOM and DAD are growing, learning and changing… just like they are.

Celebrate your successes and admit your failures. When you achieve something (even something that seems insignificant) give yourself a pat on the back and make sure the kids are in ear shot. “Wow, I really like this dinner! I’m glad I decided to try something new. I think it’s so yummy. Score one for Mom in the kitchen. Whoot Whoot!”

Encourage Independence 

By establishing routines in your daily life you let kids know what to expect. When they can prepare themselves and move easily from one thing to the next it is an extra (and easy) boost in confidence.

When setting up routines make tasks as kid-friendly as possible. Let them approach challenges and learn new skills in the safety of their own space. This low risk independence will help them become comfortable with the process of trial and error.

Let your kids help with chores. They will learn new skills, spend time with you and get a special feeling of pride that hard work fosters.

 Respect their choices

Make an I Like Me book. #7  on this list of 7 ways to improve your child’s self esteem is my favorite. Similar to the Positive Parenting Behavior Books we’ve made, this is s a great opportunity for your little one to share what THEY think is so wonderful about them.

Helping kids use conflict resolution is a great way to give kids the tools they need to solve problems, while embedding the idea that they are capable of handling themselves into their little brains. Win win!

Learn and Teach New Skills

Let your kids climb a tree, experiment with food, play in the mud or whatever else they are drawn to. These playful lessons are not only teaching them skills (far more than you can see) they are building their confidence to tackle more challenging problems in the future.

Start a garden or just grow a sunflower. Plants and gardens are a great way for kids to see the results of their hard work. They can be responsible for something and while they must be patient, often times progress is easy to observe.

Express Emotion

Make an art journal, as a family or individually.

Use the PIE Approach to help your kids express their emotions. When kids feel safe and comfortable with their range of emotions they will feel more in control with their behavior. And that is a major self esteem builder!

Appreciate Mistakes

Learn how accept mistakes and encourage creative thinking. Knowing how to handle mistakes, accepting mistakes and learning how beneficial they are goes a long way towards confidence too.

How do you work on building self esteem in your little ones?


  1. I just wrote about this… I struggled with self-esteem for years and the best way to deal with it is by immersing myself in God’s love for me. “My validation comes from being one of God’s lovingly created beings.”

    That’s something I’m trying to teach my kids… They can’t find their self-worth by looking at others, or even themselves, but by looking at God. Only there can they find their true value. 🙂

  2. I love the idea to squash the myth of perfection. I try very hard to admit my mistakes, admit when I’m wrong, to model the idea that the world doesn’t end because you messed up. Working with clients I often see this as a stumbling block for parents. Even for myself I feel like admitting I am wrong relinquishes some of my parental power, if you will. But I find in the end, it serves to humble me and remind me that even though I am the parent, I am fallible. I want my children and the clients in my office to learn from their parents that you are not always right just because you are an adult. Grat list!

    1. Thank you so much. Learning how to handle and even appreciate mistakes is such an important part of life. It makes growing and improving so much easier. 🙂

  3. I LOVE this post! Things have gone a bit wayward in our house lately and we could all do with a boost. Some really great ideas, thank you. Am going to blogpin it for future reference :o) xx

  4. Jillian,
    I cam across this on Pinterest ~ A wonderfully written post! I have shared it with the parents of my kindergarten kids on our classroom blog. Thanks! I will enjoy following your blog without a doubt!

  5. I am a grandma and I just love your ideas on nurturing my grand children’s self esteem. I just love this blog. Definitely pinning it and sharing them with my children, family and friends.

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  8. Parents are a main source of self-worth for children. When parents vigilantly approve their children’s good actions and behavior, those children will feel that they are worth loving.

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  10. For me, building self esteem within our kids has got to be one of the first lessons or goal for our kids. Every kid is special, and they need to know and believe within themselves that they are. Having such confidence and self esteem will allow them to grow more into what they want to be and the best that they can be, and it’s every parent’s dream to have the kids succeed in life.

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  12. Thanks for such a lovely article. Great tips!
    There’s a quote that I really love – Behind every young child who believes in himself is a parent who believed first.

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