How to teach kids about self-esteem

Self-Esteem means confidence in one’s own worth or abilities.  It’s what we think of or value ourselves.  Another way to think of self-esteem could be self-worth, value or identity. This is one thing I have struggled with in the past, and I have written about it before.  There are a lot of circumstances that contribute to someone’s self-esteem, sometimes valid, sometimes not.  As an adult self-esteem is a difficult topic to understand, and even if we can understand it is often difficult to deal with.  It can be even more challenging for kids.  How can we teach kids about self-esteem?

Before talking to our kids about self-esteem, it is important to know the importance of having a good self-esteem, as well as knowing the effects of a low self esteem.

A good self-esteem can lead to

  • confidence 
  • being proud of accomplishments
  • happiness
  • focus on strengths

Low self esteem can lead to

  • Feeling of helplessness or worthlessness
  • Depression
  • Lack of confidence
  • Worry
  • Focusing on weakness and failures

It’s not enough to know how low self-esteem affects us.  It is also important to know where our low self esteem comes from.

Sometimes the causes of low self esteem are obvious

  • divorce
  • getting picked on or being bullied
  • trauma
  • struggling at school
  • losing a job

Sometimes the causes are not so obvious

  • childhood trauma
  • negative self talk
  • worrying what other people think of us
  • negative feedback

So how do you talk to kids about self-esteem?

First of all make sure your kids know you love them, and that they are important and special to you. Let them know they are valuable to you and your family.  It is not enough to assume they know that. You should be intentional about telling them,

Kids may not understand the term “self-esteem” so you can find out what they think about themselves.  Make a “What I like about me” page for them if you need help with this. It will allow kids to write down and draw things they like about themselves. What they have on their page will help you see if they have a positive or a negative self view. 

  • Ask them to talk about things they are good at.
  • Make a list of accomplishments.

If you find your child struggling with their self esteem there are some things you can do to help.

  • Help them focus on their success, not failures
  • Focus on what they can do and not what they cant
  • Use positive language instead of negative language
  • Help them make a list of their talents

A new resource to help you talk to your kids about self-esteem and value

resource to help talk to your kids about self-esteem and value

As I dealt with my own depression and self esteem trouble, I wrote a story that helped me process my thoughts. For several years I kept the story filed away until I finally pulled it out and decided to turn it into a boo. The story helped me process, so I made the book in such a way that it will help the kids and families that read it have meaningful discussion. 

The story is about a young dragon named Dewey. He sets out on a treasure hunting adventure with his dad. It is a very colorful, fun story for kids, but in the end Dewey finds out he is more valuable to his dad than any treasure.

There are questions at the end of the book to help facilitate family discussions so adults will be able to tell their kids how special and valuable they are. This is an important step in helping kids have a positive self-esteem

If you are interested in checking out “The Valuable Dragon”, you can find it on Amazon. (contact me directly for the possibility of bulk purchases).  I believe Dewey can help you help your kids.

What about you? What has worked for you to improve your own self-esteem? How do you talk to your kids about self-esteem?  Send me a message or post a comment and let me know. 

About the Author

Ron is happily married to his best friend, and dad to the best daughter you could imagine. As a teacher and children's pastor, he has over 20 years experience of teaching, leading, writing, creating and consulting. He has written for churches, contributed to several collaborative publications, and written a #1 Best Selling Devotional, Got Fruit? on Amazon. His blog is consistantly listed in the Top 40 Children's Ministry Blogs and Websites. Don't hesitate to ask if you think he could help you and your ministry in any way.

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