How to Build Your Child's Self-Esteem

“I can do this!” your child says, determined while working through a difficult puzzle. It’s what every parent wants to hear and is also a sign of healthy self-esteem.

Parents want the best for their kids. The development of self-esteem helps children feel confident, believe in themselves, stand up for themselves, be persistent, and so much more. 

Read on to learn how to raise a confident child who has a positive self-image. 

The Development of Self-Esteem

Children begin developing self-esteem from the time they are born. Studies show that by the time children are 5 years old, they have developed a sense of self-esteem. While it may be surprising that a child’s self-image may already be established at this young age, self-esteem is simply a sum of many interactions and experiences.

As teacher Sherie Newman puts it, “self-esteem grows with each experience of successful interactions through positive words. It is important to build a child’s belief that they can handle their life and handle it well.” 

So, when toddlers learn to crawl successfully, they build self-esteem. When parents smile and ask questions about their preschooler’s drawings, the child develops self-esteem. When older children prepare food for the whole family to enjoy and everyone is grateful, it builds their self-esteem. 

How to Raise a Confident Child with the Montessori Approach

Helping your child grow up with a healthy self-esteem is easy if you’re intentional about it. In particular, the Montessori philosophy can help guide you in how to build your child’s confidence. Here are some main points to consider. 

  • Use Descriptive Praise: It’s tempting to tell your child how amazing you think they really are with lots of praise. You might want to say “Good job!” and “You’re amazing!” all the time. However, it’s best if you can focus the praise on your child’s efforts and be more descriptive. This helps your child build intrinsic motivation, understand that their effort is what helps them succeed, value their own hard work, and more. It’s a strategy used by many Montessori teachers and parents that’s easy to pick up once you get used to it. Here are some examples:
    • “I noticed how hard you were concentrating!”
    • “Look how colorful that drawing is!”
    • “Wow, that was a big jump!”
    • “The toys are all cleaned up! Now no one will trip or fall on them.”

This sort of praise also works to build your child’s self-esteem and confidence.

  • Encourage Independence: Montessori noticed how children strive to learn to do things “all by myself!” For this reason, she developed her curriculum to allow children to do things independently, such as choosing their own workspace, cleaning up their own messes, moving child-sized furniture as needed, and more. By encouraging your child to be independent, you build their confidence and self-esteem. When they experience success in completing activities and tasks independently, they’ll feel more and more capable.  

  • When in doubt, follow the famous Montessori quote, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”

  • Show Your Child Love and Acceptance: Ultimately, your relationship with your child is what will help them build a self-image of themselves that they are loveable. Just spending time with your child reading, preparing a meal together, playing, or chatting can build attachment and love.  
  • Self-Esteem Activities for 3-5-Year-Olds

    If you’re ready to bring self-esteem activities into your home, getting started is easy! Try getting started with cooking, practical life activities, and chores. Research shows that children who help with family chores such as cleaning or learning to cook can build their self-esteem. This is in part because when performing chores, children feel like they are a needed and important part of the family. Even toddlers can help with simple cleaning and cooking activities. Start with simple tasks and your toddler will quickly build their skills, and their confidence, too! 

    toddler on the learning tower in the kitchen