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The Self-Esteem Builder Checklist

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by Amy Churchill, LPC

I recently spoke to group of parents about how to help promote self-esteem in the home. Although social pressures and competition are not new concepts, these self-esteem deflators are definitely magnified in today’s generation of children. The pressures to stand out, be the best, or be “perfect,” are all messages children are receiving from their outside worlds. Decades ago, children would experience social pressures at school, but then return home and spend the evening with their families and/or their own thoughts, relieved from the outside social pressures. This concept is now extinct. The majority of kids these days are still connected to social pressures at home through technology. Cell phones, Internet, Ipods/Ipads, facebook; all these technological advances are allowing social pressures to leak into the home, no longer allowing the home to be a totally “safe” place.

Therefore, due to these excessive social pressures, the parent-child relationship is extremely important in order to A.) help counter the negative self-esteem messages children are receiving outside the home and B.) help preserve the home environment as a “safe” place that allows self-growth.

That being said, here are some important concepts that foster a positive self-esteem.

Feeling Unconditional Love

What this looks like in your child: Knowing that there are NO conditions to love. The child should feel, “I am loved and accepted for who I am, regardless of how I act.”

What parents can do to help promote this:

  • Send love in many shapes and forms
  • Show your children you love and accept them, always, even when they make mistakes
  • Sandwich criticisms with messages of love and acceptance
  • Understand there are few other relationships that promote this, so it is especially important for children to receive this from parents


Having a Sense of Power

What this looks like in your child: Knowing I can do something on my OWN, independent of anyone else. The child should feel, “I don’t NEED help, I can do it if I choose to.”

What parents can do to help promote this:

  • Validate your child making healthy choices
  • Validate your children when they speak their mind (model appropriate ways to speak up if necessary)
  • Give your child choices that promote independence (that are developmental appropriate)




Having a Sense of Accomplishment

What this looks like in your child: Knowing I can achieve my goals. The child should feel, “I can do anything I set my mind to, and I can succeed!”

What parents can do to help promote this:

  • Praise your child for accomplishments
  • Balance the praise to fit your child’s needs based on their own internal motivation
  • Recognize and reinforce small steps towards a larger goal


Self-Control: Feeling “in control”

Knowing I can choose what I say and what I do. The child should feel, “I am in control of my own body and behaviors.”

What parents can do to help promote this:

  • Teach and model “I” statements
  • Model responsibility for oneself, including one’s words and actions
  • Praise instances of displayed self-control


Acceptance of Self

Knowing I am OK with who I am. The child should feel like, “Whether I win or lose or I am happy or sad, I am me, and I am OK with it! I accept me, regardless of whether or not others do.”

What parents can do to help promote this:

  • Teach and model positive self-talk
  • Talk to your children about how uniquely wonderful they are
  • Validate and normalize all feelings your child comes home with

As parents, you cannot control all the messages that society sends your child regarding their worth. However you CAN control your relationship with your child, and the messages you send him or her. Promoting these concepts will help children build strong self-esteem, preparing them for society’s deflating messages and life’s challenges.