What is self-esteem?

Why is it important for your children?

What can you do?

SELF-ESTEEM is how you feel about yourself. It can be positive – you believe you are capable and respected, or it can be negative – you believe you are stupid and worthless.

SELF-ESTEEM is important because it affects how we act, how we think, how we deal with problems, how we get along with others and how we get on with our lives.


CHILDREN WITH HIGH SELF-ESTEEM usually do better in school, are willing to accept challenge and change, and have better inter-personal relationships.

SCENARIO 1 – SUSAN wants so much to express to her parents the fear she feels when she has to enter a crowded room. Her parents disapprove of her shy nature and push her to be more outgoing, but she needs time to gather up her courage and size up the situation. The message she receives is “I don’t like you as you are” which reinforces her poor self-image. If her parents encourage her to talk about her concerns and anxieties, they are accepting her feelings and helping her to be a more capable person. They can encourage her to find a friend like herself and together the two can take their time to become part of a larger group.

SCENARIO 2 – JASON’S dad thinks he is spending time with his son when he is home watching hockey on television. His six-year-old wants to show him a new book. Dad says “Oh, how interesting…”, but when his eyes do not leave the big screen, Jason knows his father is not there for him. If he were to give Jason his undivided attention, even for a limited time, this would build a true rapport between them and would say to the child “You are important to me and you are very special.”

SCENARIO 3 – JOHN is asked to tidy up his sports equipment, but he rebels by shouting “You can’t make me!” and stomps out of the room. The parent’s response might be “No video games for a week. I love and understand you, but such behavior is inexcusable”. This shows John that it is his actions that are unacceptable, not him. But if the parent gets mad and berates or slaps him, this injures John’s self-esteem. He may think that his parent doesn’t love him anymore.

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