Openly discussing mental health becomes more and more acceptable as each year passes, and so does abolishing the stigma surrounding mental health in adults and children. Modern day childhoods are significantly different compared to the childhood most of us parents experienced. Kids these days have access to hundreds, if not thousands, of TV channels, as well as a whole variety of social media platforms. Although this advancement in technology has it’s advantages, it also means that sometimes our kids have access to material that isn’t so easy to emotionally process; not to mention the rise in cyberbullying.
This access has become increasingly detrimental to children’s self esteem. In this post we’re going to be looking at what is low self esteem, how to improve self esteem, and talking about building confidence in kids.
How do I know if my child has a low self esteem?
Children who have a low self esteem often think bad thoughts about themselves and their abilities. They lack the confidence to carry out tasks or worry they’re not achieving the desired result. Some indications that your child has low self esteem are:
- Having a negative image of themselves, for example feeling stupid, ugly, or unlikeable
- They find it hard to make friends, or keep friendships alive
- As a result, they often feel isolated or lonely
- When the achieve something, they don’t feel proud and instead feel they should have done better
- Failure is difficult to take, as is constructive criticism
- They lack confidence
It’s pretty common for children to dip in and out of some of the above mindsets as they grow and develop. However, if they’re experiencing many of them, or quite a few at once, it could be time to practice some self esteem building activities. With the support of friends and family helping to build confidence and self esteem, many children are able to regain their sparkle once more!
How can I improve self esteem in kids?
As with adults, there are lots of methods to help overcome certain issues, and one thing might not work for everyone. This blog post is packed full of information about building confidence in kids, and working on our children’s self esteem.
Self care for children is vital.
As I’ve written previously, self care isn’t all about bubble baths and face masks – it’s about actively taking the time each day to focus on yourself and figure out how you can make yourself feel happier. Just like adults, kids need to take time out of their day to focus on self care in order to build on their self esteem.
Building confidence in kids is a vital part of our parental responsibilities. Being a child is difficult and many kids feel there’s a lot of pressure to please the authoritative figures in their lives, as well as be liked by their peers and perform well at school.
Encouraging your child to sit down for 30 minutes each day and practice self care, coupled with working together as a family to work on and build confidence, can work wonders for children who struggle with a low self esteem.
Here are a few ways for children to implement self care:
- Encourage journaling. Writing down their thoughts and feelings is a great way to get negative feelings off their chest, and it also serves as a record for their self esteem growth. I adore this child friendly self care journal called The Hare That Cares as it features big, bold self care prompts for children to engage with.
- Practice registering and understanding emotions. Being aware of your emotions is a great step towards working out how you think and how you react – a useful skill to have when asking how to improve self esteem. A really great resource to help you identify your thoughts and emotions is the Feelings Wheel. This is an invaluable free resource that children (and adults) can use in order to help them navigate the tricky world of emotions. There are many different versions available online, most are a free PDF download – I like the one featured on Calm’s website as they also offer a black and white version that children can colour in.
- Practice talking about mindfulness with your children. Explain what it is and explore mindfulness with your children daily.
- Establish healthier eating and exercising habits. Getting some fresh air each day mentally refreshes us and gives us a great opportunity for introspection, which can be very helpful when it comes to children’s self esteem.
- There are lots of other ways to help your child implement self care – download my free printable resource: Building Kids Self Esteem for more suggestions and ideas.
How can I help my child feel happier and more positive?
When talking about how to improve self esteem, I have found that the power of positive affirmations has made a huge difference in my 7 year olds confidence and overall happiness. Positive affirmations are positive mantras that children can say to themselves whenever they need to, for example, if they’re feeling unsure of themselves, or if they feel they can’t achieve the task in front of them.
Positive affirmations can be used in all areas of your child’s life. I first noticed Luke using positive affirmations when he started junior Park Run in 2019. His very first run was difficult – he got halfway around and was begging to stop. We told him he could do it, that he was strong and fast and that he’d trained so hard in order to complete it. He took all this on board and started running again, repeating the phrase “You can do it, Luke!” over and over again. Needless to say, when he reached the finish line, he was absolutely elated. Since then, positive affirmations have played a big role in creating my small, confident child.
Positive affirmation resources.
I have included a printable affirmations sheet in my free printable Building Kids Self Esteem resource pack. You can either hang the print up on your child’s bedroom wall (above their bed or near their mirror is a great place as they will see the affirmations frequently), or you can cut each affirmation out and spread them all over the home.
There are several other resources I use to help practice the use of positive self affirmations, as I do believe they are the building blocks to creating happy, confident children (and adults). My favourite products are listed below.
Affirmations For Tiny Humans. These cards are beautifully designed with woodland animal characters and feature simple affirmations that will help build a positive mindset. There are 12 cards in the collection and they can be purchased either boxed or unboxed.
I Am, I Can (*affiliate) – DK Books. You may have seen me talking about this book over on my Instagram and Facebook pages lately. I Am, I Can features 365 affirmations for kids to help them get through the year. There are a few different ways to use the book, for example, you can dip in and out when you feel you need to, or you can make a point of opening up the book each day and searching for the day’s positive affirmation. Each month has a different theme, so the affirmations are all very well rounded and useful. I definitely recommend this book, it also makes a great gift.
I Am Amazing: Colouring Book For Kids. This colouring book serves two purposes: relaxing colouring that encourages mindfulness and relaxation, and introducing your children to positive, age appropriate affirmations.
Simple ways to improve self esteem in kids.
Be a good role model
Working as a parent/child team is the best way to help build your child’s self esteem. Being a good role model is the foundation of building your child’s self esteem. Kids are always watching and learning from us, so projecting a positive, happy outlook on life in front of our children will help them to learn how to manage difficult situations and everyday life. It’s as simple as having a cheery attitude towards tasks, as opposed to grumbling. Working on your own self esteem and actively showing your children that everyone struggles, and that these feelings can be beaten, is a great way to be a good role model.
Think about the language you use
No one likes criticism, so why use that type of language with your children? Saying unhelpful things and using harsh language can damage a child’s self esteem in exactly the same way it can damage an adult’s. Ban phrases such as: “you’re useless”, “don’t be so lazy!”, and “don’t be stupid”. Instead, help to correct problems in a patient manner – children who hear this often internalise these sayings and then believe them to be true, creating the problem of low self esteem.
Praise and be proud
I don’t mean praise them for everything, but if I child is proud of something positive, you should be proud of them too! Use praise and encourage them to keep trying and doing what they’re doing. This especially applies to things that really interest them. Trying a new hobby, for example, can really test a child’s confidence and self esteem, especially if they don’t succeed first time. However, praising them and using positive language to encourage them to pursue their passions further can really help when it comes to building confidence in kids.
This is a subject I’ll definitely look into writing more about, but for now, don’t forget to download and print out my Building Kids Self Esteem resources. They’re completely free and there’s an entire page dedicated to ways in which you and your child can work together to build their self esteem.
There’s no one fix for everything.
Now I am by no means a professional. I’m not a psychologist, I have no formal education into children’s minds. What I do have is plenty of experience. The things I have mentioned above may not work for every child. If you’re noticing real issues with your child’s self esteem, it may be worth getting in touch with your GP. There are also numerous charities in the UK that can help support young people with mental health problems. If you feel like your child’s self esteem isn’t the only issue, organisations like Young Minds have lots of resources to help you and your child.
These are just collections of methods I have found to be extremely helpful for improving self esteem. I thought that putting them together in one big free download might be something that could help other parents like me. If you’ve enjoyed this free printable resource, please do let me know! You can leave a comment below, or you can reach out and tag me on Twitter and Instagram.
Do remember to take care of your own mental health too. Often we take on the struggles our children face without a second thought and carry their burden for them. Although it’s a natural instinct for parents, it can lead to a feeling of overwhelm and other, more serious, mental conditions.