Building Self Esteem In Kids: Part 1 You Are Known And Accepted

Part 1 

Happy Kids Happy Parents

A child who is failing school, shunned by peers and has no hobbies or interests feels unhappy and so do the parents—happy kids, happy parents.  We all want our children to succeed so how do we encourage self-esteem? Here is the first of four basic of relationship principles (Johnson, 2008) which lead to self-esteem. 

A child needs feel known and accepted.

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It is not easy to really see your child.  Our vision is clouded by our own hopes, fears and ego.  We get confused how our child is versus how we wish they would be. 

But as parents, we need to convey the attitude:

“I understand your strengths and your weaknesses and I love you just the way you are.”

Judith McKay, R.N. said, “Children who feel they are really seen and understood by their parents can afford to be authentic.  Such children don’t have to hide parts of themselves, because they fear being rejected.  If you can accept your entire child, the good and the bad, your child can accept themselves.  This is the cornerstone of good self-esteem.”

Do you really see your child?

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Compile a list

Here is an exercise to help you understand your child:

1.    Write down all the positive and negative things others have said about your child during the years.  Be honest and spend at least a week to do the evaluation.

2.    What situations make you most frustrated with your child?

3.    What situations are you most confident with your child?

4.    What things does your child do easily? What is hardest?

5.    Is your child out going or an introvert?

6.    What does your child do to get attention?

7.    How does your child show discouragement?

8.    How are you different from your child? How are you similar?

9.    How frequently does your child show anxiety? (Bite nails, difficulty sleeping through the night, needs frequent reassurance, etc.)

10. Can your child stick to a task and complete it?

11. How adaptable is your child? Do they get unreasonable upset when plans change?

12. Compared to their peers, how active are they? On a scale of 1-10?

13. Are they hypersensitive about foods, textures, and light?

14. Is your child moody or good-natured?

After compiling your description, underline the positive and negative qualities.  Remember, behind every great weakness is usually strength.  Now try and see the world through the eyes of your child and notice how often they try to please you.

Authentic Observations Are Great Compliments

A child who isn’t very good at spelling won’t do better on a spelling test if we give them a false praise with words like “You can do it, you are awesome. ”

But they will feel better if we say, “You have struggled in the past with spelling tests.” “It takes a lot of practice for you to learn these new words.” (Accurate perception of weakness)   

 “I’ve seen you practice hard in soccer practice with your team. You seem to enjoy practicing then.” (Accurate perception of strength.) Child nods and says, “Yes, I get lonely and bored studying spelling by myself.” 

Parent: “I understand you do work best around others, you are very social.”

Collaborate With Your Child 

The best solution to any problem is often the one the child offers. So the parent continues with, “What do you think would be a good way for you to learn your spelling words? The child then responds with, “Will you practice with me every night before bed?  I seem to do ok if we practice together.”  Parent responds with, “Let’s try it and see if it works.” 

Doesn’t it feel better to accept your child and work collaboratively towards solutions instead of forcing them to be something they are not?  Practicing these principles will raise your self-esteem too. 

Want to understand your child better?  Here is a link to questions to ask:

Camille Curtis Foster / 801.472.7134/

See other posts:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Great link with additional tips:


Shick, Lyndall. (1998) . Understanding temperament: strategies for creating family harmony. United States of America: Parenting Press.

McKay, Judith. E-book (2014) . Self-Esteem: a proven program of cognitive techniques for assessing, improving and maintaining self-esteem (

Johnson, Sue. (2008) . Hold me tight, seven conversations for a lifetime of love. New York: Little Brown & Company. 


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