Self-esteem refers to the judgments individuals make about themselves. These judgments connect to their own worth as a person as well as to the feelings that are associated with those judgments. People tend to have a global appraisal of their worth along with a variety of separate self-evaluations linked to different activities.

These self-evaluations start early. By the age of four, kids have several self-judgments brewing. They may evaluate themselves related to learning well at school, making friends, getting along with siblings and parents, and treating others kindly. During the preschool years, children master many new skills, and importantly high self-esteem contributes to their level of self-motivation.

Parents can help in this regard. Parents who patiently encourage their children while offering helpful information about how to successfully accomplish a task provide a foundation that leads children to be enthusiastic and highly motivated. On the other hand, children who have experienced parental criticism about worth and performance give up easily when faced with a challenge, and children who are criticized express shame and feelings of dependence after failing.

To help build your child’s self-esteem, here are just a few thoughts:

  • Adjust your expectations to his or her developmental abilities.
  • Support your child’s attempts at difficult tasks.
  • Accentuate the positive.
  • Point out your child’s effort and improvement in his or her work and behaviors.

Helping your child develop high self-esteem will contribute to a sense of initiative as he or she masters new skills. Your child can develop a determined approach to life.