A Guide for Families and Caregivers

Building Block 2

Promoting and Enhancing Self-Esteem
Key Message
Showing young children they are loved, loveable, and capable builds healthy self-esteem.

Healthy self-esteem involves feeling capable and feeling loved. Positive self-esteem is linked to good mental health, as well as fewer behaviour problems, social difficulties, and feelings of loneliness. A nurturing relationship, particularly with parents, is the strongest factor related to healthy self-esteem.

Parents and caregivers want to raise children to become healthy and productive members of their community. As children’s first and most important teachers, parents support their children through love, guidance, discipline, and purpose towards a healthy life.

The important components of self-esteem:

  • The sense that we are unique, valuable, and important
  • The unconditional love we receive from self and others (no matter what we do or don’t do, we are worthy of love)
  • The belief that we grow through experiences in life
  • The view of ourselves as competent in cognitive, emotional, and physical ways

Feeling good about oneself is related to the feeling of having some control over things. For example, being able to make small choices helps children feel worthwhile and valuable. Feeling good about themselves helps children get along with others and grow into strong adults.

Children’s self-concept is shaped by their interactions with other people. Parents and caregivers are very important to the development of children’s healthy self-esteem. Parents and caregivers help shape positive self-esteem in young children by responding to them in a warm, accepting, and flexible manner on a consistent basis. A parent’s or caregiver’s unconditional love for a child, regardless of his or her behaviour, is essential for the development of a child’s healthy self-esteem.

In addition to the feeling of being loved and lovable, the feeling of being capable is also directly related to our healthy self-esteem.

Interactions, experiences, and the feedback children receive from parents and caregivers during the early years lay the foundation for how children see themselves. Around the age of 8, the capacity for self-esteem becomes more fully established as children develop the cognitive abilities to engage in self-appraisal. Once established, an individual’s level of self-esteem is relatively stable over time.

"When you accept me for who I am and are interested in what I do and what I like, I know I’m special"
Last Modified: 01-Mar-2020