February is International Boost Self-Esteem Month  

As a parent, helping your child develop a healthy self-concept is an ongoing task. The term “self-esteem” is widely used, but is also complicated. Studies have shown that not enough self-esteem is a problem, but so is too much. If a child’s self self-esteem is based on an inflated impression of ability, instead of  merit, that can be harmful, too. 

Self-concept is a broader idea than self-esteem. It’s how a person thinks about herself generally, not just the esteem part. So how do you help your child develop a balanced, healthy self-concept? Focus on empowering your child to make choices and act for herself. Praise genuine effort and achievement. Teach your child about self-acceptance.

Here are some strategies to try:

  • Give your child age-appropriate choices to help them feel empowered. It can be as simple as “would you like apples or carrots with your lunch?” or “of these picture books, which one would you like to read first?” Making these small decisions will allow them to grow in confidence, build personal agency, and feel that their opinion is valued. 
  • Embrace the idea that nobody is perfect. Show your child that don’t expect everyone to be good at everything, and that we all have things which we find more challenging. Point out to your child when you are struggling with something by saying something like: “Oops. That didn’t work out the way I thought it would. That’s ok. I’ll try again.” Emphasize effort, persistence, and improvement, not immediate perfection.
  • Allow your child to do things for themselves. Learning a new skill such as doing their buttons up by themselves will give them a true sense of accomplishment. As a parent, this takes patience, but building new skills takes time.The goal isn’t perfection, but growing independence and confidence.
  • Don’t compare your child to others or their siblings.Try to appreciate each child’s individual qualities.
  • Give praise and point out when they have done things well. Acknowledging the effort and hard work put into an achievement is important. So is talking about what happened when kids fail. Everyone stumbles or fails: what we learn from our failures is valuable and lets us do better in the future.

A healthy self-concept includes a balance of esteem and self-knowledge resulting in confidence, perseverance, and humility. A realistic self-image based on accurate and age-appropriate feedback and experience can help your child navigate life’s challenges.

These tips are provided by Jo Rooks, author of Magination Press book, Lucy’s Light. Lucy’s Light is about learning self-acceptance.

by Jo Rooks

This Article's Author

Jo Rooks is an award-winning author-illustrator who studied graphic design and illustration at Bath School of Art and Design. She illustrated several award-winning books, including A Box of Butterflies and Hector's Favorite Place. Visit her at Jo Rooks Illustration and Follow her on Facebook: @JoRooksIllustration, Twitter: @JoRooksArt, and Instagram: @JoRooksIllustration.

Related Books from Magination Press

  • Lucy’s Light

    Jo Rooks

    Lucy is a lightning bug and the most talented flyer in the squad. There’s just one problem: she doesn’t light up!

    When it’s time to learn night flying, Lucy is anxious. She tries everything to get her light to shine but nothing works. Lucy is about to give up when her friends are captured by a nasty toad and his gang, who hatched a plan to brighten up their bog.

    Does Lucy have what it takes to save her friends? Or is she just an “ordinary” bug after all?

    A sweet story which shines a light on inner confidence, self-acceptance, and courage. Lucy learns that doing a good deed will always make you shine bright!