Ontario public health measures
COVID-19 Info | Information sur la COVID-19 | COVID-19 Vaccine Vaccine Receipt | COVID-19 Self-Assessment

Middlesex-London Health Unit

Inner Nav


As parents, we have an important role to play in nurturing a positive self-esteem in our children. Children with a healthy self-esteem have a sense of self-worth and feel capable and loved. They are more likely to be cooperative and to develop to their potential.1


Child will a strong self-esteem are more likely to:

  • Have a healthy, positive view of themselves
  • Recognize that they are valued and worthy people
  • Have a positive outlook
  • Feel satisfied with themselves most of the time
  • Set realistic goals 

Low self-esteem is caused by children thinking and believing bad things about themselves. Things that can cause children to develop low self-esteem are:

  • Lack of praise, affection, or attention
  • Lack of limits or discipline
  • Negative comments from others
  • Comparing children to siblings or other children
  • Lack of regular exercise or fitness
  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • Family conflict2
Teen hugging mother

Parents Can Encourage a Healthy Self-Esteem

You can take some practical steps to help build a healthy self-esteem in your child. Some of them may seem simple, but they are well worth the effort!

  • Encourage your child by using words such as "Thanks for your help", "You'll figure it out", "You really worked hard". 3
  • Praise your child for their efforts and not only for their achievements  
  • Frequently let you child know that you care about them and love them
  • Encourage good hygiene to help your child feel good about themselves
  • Help keep your child active, as regular exercise is an important part of a healthy self-esteem and a positive outlook
  • Encourage your child to make friends 
  • Allow your child to do things on their own and make decisionsthat are appropriate for their age
  • Encourage your child to think positively about themselves and redirect negative thinking
  • Encourage your child to express their ideas
  • Create a safe and loving home 4

How to Help Your Child Manage Negative Self-Talk 

  • Tell your child it is okay to make mistakes - mistakes are opportunities for learning
  • Help your child put mistakes into perspective and encourage them to try again
  • Listen to your child when they are upset and help them cope with their feelings
  • Help your child think positively about themselves and encourage a confident approach

How to Help Your Child Solve Problems 

When your child learns how to solve problems effectively, it can help them to feel better about themselves. You can help your child learn and practice problem solving skills.

  • Let your child see you calmly approaching problems and considering how to handle various situations
  • Let your child express their ideas and take part in family decisions
  • Teach your child how to solve problems by exploring ways to handle the problem. Try the DEAL approach
  1. Define the problem
  2. Explore possible ways to handle the problem
  3. Act: choose the best option and try it out
  4. Learn from the effort – and change the plan if necessary 

Nurture a close relationship with your child. Children need to feel accepted and loved. They need to feel accepted regardless of their achievements and their failures. By enjoying an accepting and warm relationship with your children you are showing them that they are loved, they are individuals of value and they can handle the challenges that life will bring their way.

Date of creation: December 13, 2012
Last modified on: December 29, 2014


1Kid's HealthDeveloping Your Child’s Self-Esteem. Retrieved from
2Canadian Mental Health Association. Children and Self-Esteem. Retrieved from
3McCready, Amy (2011). Encouraging Words. Retrieved from: Retrieved from
4Saunders, M., Turner, K., Dadds, M. (2002). Self-Esteem , Brisbane Australia: Triple P Positive Parenting Program.