how to Help kids with Self Esteem

How to help kids with self esteem : Why you need to be Intentional About Your Son’s Healthy Self Esteem

Positive & Healthy Self Esteem can be a determining factor of whether your child will successfully navigate and prevail against all curveballs life will throw at him. Its importance cuts through the quality of the relationships and friendships he will have, it will affect his success in academics and sport it can even negatively affect his health.

In this article, we will look at How to Help Kids with their Self Esteem and Why you must be Intentional about your son’s Self Esteem.
Very early when my son was about four years old I was able to notice that he is a smart and intelligent child but lacked confidence, he did not believe that he is talented, he was withdrawn, always quiet, and at the back of the class. His pre-school teachers were equally concerned and disturbed by this trade that they also noticed.

I grew up with the same challenge and I had to be intentional that history is not going to repeat itself through my son. Look forward to reading about his journey to confidence towards the end of the article. You must be wondering at what point should I be concerned about my son’s self-esteem. Check the signs below:

Signs of a Low Self Esteem

  • Boys who only engage with friends online
  • Unnecessarily anxious 
  • Too self conscious
  • Negative self talk
  • Self-pity 
  • Feeling unwanted
  • Always apologetic, even for things that he is not responsible for 
  • Always doubting his decisions or even shying away from taking decisions.
  • Afraid to say No
  • Lack boundaries 
  • Avoid new things, new people, places, and challenges.
  • Gives up before trying or at the first sign of frustration.
  • Find it hard to accept positive or negative feedback.
  • Always concerned about other people’s opinion of him and wanting to measure up to other’s expectations.
  • Easily bullied or a bully himself.

Signs of a good & healthy self esteem

  • Believe and are proud of their abilities and talents 
  • Feels loved and accepted
  • Think highly of themselves
  • makes friends easily
  • Loves to explore 
  • Not afraid to try new things or make mistakes
  • Don’t give up easily./ Are resilient  

Common Consequences of low self esteem or maybe why you should be Intentional about building your son’s self esteem

  • A decline in academic performance
  • susceptible to stress, loneliness, and depression 
  • Low motivation
  • Feeling insignificant 
  • Living to please people 
  • Vulnerable to drug or alcohol addiction

Aware or Unaware : How parents destroys their children’s Self Esteem – Don’t do this.

  • Overpraising .
  • Comparing him with others.
  • Being over involved , not giving him space to make mistakes and learn from them.
  • Focusing more on his short comings than strengths.
  • Always demanding conformity, without questioning – My way or the highway kind of parenting.
  • Frequent yelling and spanking . This can be very counter productive learn more about it here.
  • Not taking their children’s interests, goals and aspirations serious.
  • Bashing them or their ideas in front of other people.

How to Develop & Nurture the Healthy Self Esteem

  1. Make them feel loved and secure give them a sense of belonging

I am talking about the unconditional kind of love. Not love when you have obliged or conformed. The kind that the child is clear that he is loved even when he has messed up.

2. Encourage Self awareness . Read more about how to encourage self awareness here.

Teach them How to feel good about themselves

3. Help them pursue their interests & nurture their talents .Know and be involved in the things they love.

4. Provide them with value adding opportunities- let them develop competence

  • Chores
  • Trusting him with responsibilities.
  • Let them take up an age appropriate volunteering work.
  • At the beginning of the covi19 pandemic lockdowns, I realized within social media streets that most parents were frustrated, not knowing how to make their kid’s birthdays special. I saw it as an opportunity to afford my kids to add value. Whenever I spot a frustrated parent in that regard, I will organize my twin girls to sing a happy birthday song with the child’s name in, to make it personal, record a sweet message, and sent it to the parent. It looked small but most kids appreciated receiving sweet, bubbly encouraging messages from kids their age from a far-off country, and in return, the twins looked forward to the sweet, grateful responses. They got determined daily to put a smile on their peer’s faces even during lockdowns.

5. Involve them as much as possible in decision making, especially about things that concerns or affect them.

6. Empower them to make their own decisions

7. Let them take risks and you step back

8. Eliminate disempowering criticism

9. Model Confidence It is a monkey see, monkey do kind of deal, you cannot have it otherwise, this might just be the right time to invest in your own personal development .

10. Get him to watch the video below

Bonus tips :Activities

11. Encourage him to do daily positive I am affirmations. Youcan find them here

12. Let him make a poster with his picture in the middle, surrounded by positive adjectives.

13. Journal meaningful compliments & Wins .

14. Create a habit of giving compliments.

Compliments are so potent, their power positively affects both the giver and the receiver. Our focus now is on the giver. What do compliments do to the giver? The receiver’s happiness easily rubs onto the giver. They force the giver to have positive thoughts about other people and they pull him out of his comfort zone, face people and talk to them

15. Have daily or weekly challenges that improves self esteem.

It can be as simple as asking for help by himself in the store while you are shopping together, greeting and complementing a stranger preferably his age but a bonus if he can comfortably approach adults off course this should not be out of your sight.

Lastly read my son’s journey to a healthy self esteem below hope you find some inspiration.

My son’s story

When he was 5 years old as mentioned above I realized that he is smart but not confident at all. I had to devise ways to pool him out of his cocoon. One day I remember it clearly, we were sitting in the car together and I said to him don’t you want to have your own business, sell something and make your own money. He got very excited over the idea and couldn’t wait to start.

From Lollipops to Healthy Snacks

To cut the long story short daddy invested. He bought airtime and lollipops to sell. Most of the initial selling was done in-house to the neighbors and relatives. His first big step is when we went to one SARS ( our tax offices ) to sort out my tax issues. When we got there the line was long, I encouraged my shy little boy to go from one person to the next to sell his lollipops. I was already shaking in my boots for him as I suggest this but had to put on a brave face. My heart was pounding hard as I witness my shy and withdrawn child timidly moving from one person to the next, with a very low voice holding on to one sentence ‘ My name is Rea, I am selling lollipops, I want to buy myself a bicycle ‘. The reception from some was awesome and from some made me wanna go snatch him out of what looked so terrifying, I felt I was putting my little boy through too much, and some looks were silently saying to me , why are you abusing the child. I had to remind myself why we were doing this. The purpose was not profiting at all hence I was not bordered that some might cheat him by taking more change or lollipops. The purpose was to pull him out of the cocoon and make him aware that he has a voice and a place to occupy.

From one person to the next he kept going. Something interesting was happening as he pushes through this long queue his pitch was getting louder, he was starting to keep eye contact better than when he began. He started engaging his customers beyond the introductory sentence. One thing sure is at the end of that he was a different person.

That was just the beginning he was my handbag wherever I go and his lollipops were always with him. As his confidence grows he was able to enter a shop where they sell sweets and make the employees in there buy his special lollipops. He later decided that he no longer want to sell lollipops because they are unhealthy and pivoted to selling healthy snacks. At this stage confidence was no longer an issue, he was now my confidence coach because he will insist to go sell in places that my adult mind would insist that, it is inappropriate to try to do any form of business there, he will go and come back with some profit. The day I took him for his 6th-year immunization, before getting to his turn to take the shot, most nurses and patients alike were already munching on his nuts.

The pinnacle of it all is the day I went with him to the Robert Kiyosaki seminar. His snacks saved the day for most attendees. My little man, around seven years then, vowed that we will not go home until he gets Robert himself to munch on his snacks, boy did he make it happen? Without fear or favor, he found his way through the bodyguards and the multitude of people who wanted Robert to autograph their books then. He got a packet of mixed nuts to him and came back with a R100.00 note , five times more than what the packet cost. Below is his photo with Robert after the sale.

His school performance took a leap, math became his favorite subject he went to math competitions from regional to international level. He is a great influencer amongst his peers and makes friends very easy wherever he goes. He likes exploring new things and ideas, he has a sound opinion for his age on things that you wouldn’t expect him to have an opinion on.

Interview about his business at Finery Fair

Today I spent most time thinking on how to tame this over confident 11 year old boy. But the truth is I better have him over confident than withdrawn timid with no voice .

Final Thoughts 

Hope you found value , hope and encouragement from the read. I hope you are now convinced that your child self esteem is not something to be left to chance, to sit and hope it will take shape as he grows. I want to believe that from the tips, activities and outlined strategies you have noted two or three that you can begin to implement, this might just be the greatest legacy you can ever leave for your son. Why? Because it speaks directly to his current and future relationships, it directly affects how his career will unfolds , it will determines how he rises to take his rightful place within the society and brightens every corner he finds himself in. Yes it will be a determining factor of whether his talents lay buried or get nurtured to make the impact they are destined to make. Lets together intentionally build our children’s self esteem.

28 thoughts on “How to help kids with self esteem : Why you need to be Intentional About Your Son’s Healthy Self Esteem”

  1. This is a very sweet article that obviously comes from a place of love. How wonderful to give support and encouragement in healthy ways to nurture a strong sense of self esteem. It is very helpful to have the actionable tips that can be peppered in to daily life and help to gradually empower them in healthy, helpful ways. Thank you so much!

    • Hey Aly

      Thank you for stopping by. The Incredible Boy 

      Lets be Intentional about building and enhancing our children’s healthy self esteem.

  2. I’m glad that I came across this article and what a journey that your son has had from having low self esteem to gaining confidence. It is true that for many children that we should encourage positive behaviour and be aware of our children needs and respond positively.

    Valuable article and if we all follow some of the suggestions within, our children can certainly come out of their shell, grow happier and find who they really are with confidence – Amazing article, well done:)

    • Thank you for stopping by The Incredible Boy

      Being aware of your kids needs and responding appropriately is the best thing you can ever do to them .They will feel heard and wanted which are great boosters of healthy self esteem.

  3. Thank you so much for this amazing article. Self-esteem is very important for everyone. And it’s important to build the self-esteem of children at a young age. I think every parent should understand this. I had low self-esteem when I was young and I wish my parents would help me with this. I will share this article with my friends who have children.

    • Hi Isaac

      Most people suffered and and are still suffering from self esteem issues most of them started from when they were kids . Parents need to be empowered to know that they have a role in building their kids self esteem .

      Thank you for stopping by The Incredible Boy 

  4. Hi there,

    Great article; I loved the reading!

    My daughter, too, was suffering from low self-esteem, and she is still to that day.  I concluded that it comes from the school mainly because of mathematic classes. She didn’t understand well, and as a result, she got bad scores. I remember the teacher saying that if she doesn’t catch up, she gets down a class and all this in front of her. So she lost a lot of confidence. However, she is getting better, but I will try some of the tips you have suggested in the article. It sounds great!

    Thank you for this excellent post!

    • Hi Daniella

      Thank you for stopping by The Incredible Boy
      I am so sorry to hear that . Sometimes adults do not understand the harm they cause children by such careless comment.
      Yes please try the tips or you can contact us for Coaching


  5. Providing kids with a loving environment where they feel wanted, is the most important step in building their confidence. I loved reading the story about your son and how you could see his confidence was increasing, as he was moving through the queue to sell his lollipops. The tips you have provided to help kids to improve their self esteem, is very doable. It is often teachers at school that can break down a child’s confidence, so these tips should be shared with parents and teachers. 

    • Hey Line 

      Thank you for stopping by The Incredible Boy and engaging me on How to help kids with self esteem

      I am glad you found my sons story valuable . We cannot over emphasize the importance of creating a loving environment to build our children’s  confidence .  

  6. This is a very informative post full of important information.  Quite often parents refuse to see or acknowledge problems in their children.  They possibly ignore them and pretend they aren’t there.  There are also other parents who are too busy to notice.

    This list will help parents to actually stop and have a good look at their children and actually critically examine their behaviour and development.

    It is essential to note that in many occasions there is a medical reason that needs to be identified. On these occasions parents have to teach their children how to deal with them, as no amount of exposure or encouragement will make them change or make it go away.

    I say this from a personal perspective, as I was always a loner and never had close friends.  I just decided that I was odd and got in with it.  When I met someone like a new work colleague, I would warn them of my oddness.  Things only came to a head a few years ago, when I finally decided that there had to be a reason for it.  It turns out I have ASD.

    I wish my parents had read an article like this when I was small and had noticed my behaviour.  My life would have been so much different if they had.

    • Hey Geoff 

      Thank you for stopping by The Incredible Boy and engaging me on How to help kids with Self Esteem.

      I really feel you. Most parents do not pay the required attention and that happens for various reasons, some valid and some not valid hence I used the word Intentional. It sad that some long term suffering can be avoided 

  7. Thank you very much for pointing all these things we should be aware of when taking care of our child’s self esteem. Self-esteem, for them, comes from: knowing that they’re loved and that they belong to a family and a community that values them. Spending quality time with them is key.

    • Thank you Ann for stopping by The Incredible Boy and engaging me on How to help kids with self esteem.The early days of childhood are great for building great foundation of self worth.

  8. It is really hard to let them take risks and just take a step back.  I am a single mom, but my son has been in competitive gymnastics all of this life from 3 on.  So for 13 years!  I think that sports help too.  He is very good and does very well and I think that helps a lot with his confidence and self esteem.  His coaches have played a huge role in molding him into the great young man that he is.

    • Hey Lea. Thank you for stopping by The Incredible Boy.

      Its never easy to step back but it has to be done. Keep at it mommy. 

  9. If we do not have strong self-esteem, many things that happen in our lives will affect us. Your self-confidence can be your most powerful tool for success in life. With it, you can accomplish anything and overcome almost any challenge. To help kids, teach them to pay attention to the way they look at themselves in the mirror each day before school starts. Ask them if they are proud to see who is looking back at them. There should always be a smile on their face so they can greet themselves on a positive note each day.:)

    • Thank you again Pitin for stopping by

      I an loving the value that you are dropping in here .

  10. I’m really enjoying these articles that you’re writing! I adore young children as I am a kindergarten teacher. I don’t think that many people realize how early an age these things most consider “adult issues” really start affecting our children. 

    These things should be considered very early on!

    Great article! Keep it up!

  11. Love the website! Many kids today struggle with self confidence and overall self image issues. This website is a good tool to use to help with those major problems in kids today. A lot of kids struggle with self esteem and that can have a huge effect on their daily lives and this website should be used by those people to help with that.

    Thanks, Mason

  12. Wow, this was such a great article. I really enjoyed those lists for signs of low esteem and a healthy one. As far as I can tell, I think they are really on point. Well done.

    As for that list of things to do to nurture that self-esteem, it was bonkers. I mean, I love it so much. I 100% agree that this idea of unconditional love is paramount. The kid has to know that you will love him/her no matter what, no matter how badly he/she messes it up. I think that’s the very foundation and without it, all the other stuff can only work in a very, very limited capacity. So, I believe getting that one right is fundamental. Also, I loved those bonus/advanced tips. Something like affirmations is a really difficult skill but it’s an absolutely necessary one.

    Again, I loved the article. Cheers. 🙂

  13. Hi Thank you for your information about children, and you are so right about the importance of our children having confidence. Every parent should prioritize this to make sure we don’t dampen our children’s faith.

    I realize if we leave money with our children, they can be confident while the money is still there, but when it runs out, then what? I have four girls and one son; the thought of them growing in this world worries me.

    I realize that the only thing that we can give them after we are gone is our words. Our words are going to lead them in the darkest time of their lives. Thank you so much for reminding me.

  14. Hi Bogadi.

    Your site in general and article in particular really resonated with me.  Having raised several children and being one of six siblings, I know what it’s like to witness self-esteem issues.  The signs that you list are good, and I would add another.  A child with low self-esteem may start keeping score of what he/she perceived of the love doled out compared to other siblings.  If all parents had a copy of this article before they became parents, I believe we wouldn’t have nearly the amount of issues with kids with low self-esteem.  Go to any little league park and watch parents yell at underachieving kids in front of his friends.  Sad.  Thanks for posting.  Well done.

    • Hi Warren 

      Thank you for stopping by The Incredible Boy and adding so much value.

      Parents need to be more aware of their contribution to the unwanted behaviors and demeanors of their kids.

      And equally note that they can make or break the self esteem of their kids.

  15. Loved this article and the ways in which you helped your son to gain more confidence in himself. I think that this article can also apply to girls as the principles are the same.

    Even though it was scary for both of you when you sent him off to sell his lollipops, you taught him some valuable lessons not only about having confidence, but also to explore entrepreneurship, which I think is going to be the wave of the future.

  16. Hello, and thanks so much for sharing, I believe that your post will help so many parents to spot when their child has issues in this area and will be able to use your advice. So many children are suffering from low self-esteem the reasons may be different from child to child but it’s all the same. We need to build our children’s esteem level that will cause them to have a positive outlook on life and accomplish their dreams.

  17. What you have created is an encyclopedia on understanding what it is like to be a boy. It is through this deep understanding of the complex nature of boys that one can make that elusive connection to help them develop into productive and happy adults. You quite rightly place self-esteem as a critical component in this process. 

    My wife and I only had one son, who we adopted. He was and is not lacking in self-esteem at all. Hence, this was a problem we didn’t have to address. However, he had a boatload of other problems that required attention. The main one was his lack of honesty. This was and is a major issue we have always grappled with. As an adult, he is now dealing with kids of his own. 

    Thanks for putting in all the effort into this very helpful series of articles about boys. I wish I had come across it 20 years ago ha! But then you wouldn’t have had a blog then. 



  18. With so many bullies these days and kids that are just plain mean on social media, it’s more important than ever to help build up your child’s self esteem, so they know beyond a shadow of a doubt how valuable they are. I appreciate you bringing up this topic, revealing the signs of low self-esteem and listing ways we can help build up our child’s self-esteem. I especially agree with identifying your child’s interests and helping him pursue them. I did this for my daughter and she always had a sense of purpose and a strong community among those who shared her interest. For example, she loved horseback riding and acting in plays and made many good friends in those circles who helped her feel good about her interests and talents.


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