The Building Blocks to Your Child’s Self- Esteem

The Building Blocks to Your Child’s Self- Esteem


Jessica Conaway, MS Licensed Mental Health Counselor Play Therapist

Every parent wants to have a child with great self esteem or a child who feels highly of themselves. The good news is that it starts with you (no pressure here at all), but in all seriousness your children become a reflection of you. They mimic our mannerisms and word phrases. I don’t have to tell a parent what happens when they accidentally say a curse word around a three-year-old. They are watching and responding, and REPEATING everything you do. So we want to respond to their emotions appropriately at a young age so they can learn to respond appropriately when they get older. We are talking about the process of identification (what we are feeling) and responding with compassion. Always taking time to listen to their problems, no matter how small they may seem to the adult mind.

A five-year-old that is distressed over his missing toy may feel just as anguished as the adult who has lost their iPhone. Our children depend on us for survival and, therefore are highly attuned to our emotions. The calmer and more compassionate we are in reacting to our children, the more resilient they become in handling their own emotions. Yet, as parents, we will always have moments when we fumble, tense up, say the wrong thing, and offer the wrong remedy. There is not a perfect formula for building self-esteem but I generally follow these guidelines:

Encouragement and Positive Reinforcement: We have to support who our children are regarding natural strengths. What is your child good at? Maybe they are an artist or naturally good at sports. You want to take on the role of greatest cheerleader!! We must also accept our children for who they are not, pertaining to what they struggle with. Maybe they’re struggling with a particular subject in school, for me that was math. You want to take the position of biggest supporter and encourager in these situations by gently reminding your child of their strengths and reassuring that you will help them to navigate uncertain territories (yes, parents even Math or English or fill in the subject) Your child needs to know that if their greatest fear comes true and they are not able to do something on their own that its met with compassion and assistance.

Create safe Landings: The world can often be harsh and children can feel that. They also can receive some pretty detrimental messages: You’re not smart enough, strong enough, quick enough, talented enough… YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH. And then there are YOU ARE TOO MUCH: You’re too emotional. You’re too talkative. You’re too weak. When the outside world sends these messages to your children, they need a safe place to come home to. They will seek comfort and love from you. You want to be the parent who builds them up and gives them a safe emotional landing. This will give them the strength to build back up what was drained.

Please call us today if you feel you need some assistance building up your self-esteem or your child’s self-esteem. We offer assistance to both parents and children. We can be reached at 407-355-7378. Call today and set up an appointment with a qualified therapist that can help your family achieve its potential!

Jessica