Self-esteem can be boosted in many ways, but it’s not about praising everything a child or young person does or never telling them off. Most of all, adults can try to remember these things for themselves and model self-acceptance and kindness.
Three top tips for boosting confidence and self-esteem
- Research shows that self-esteem is boosted by trying new things and by understanding that mistakes are a part of learning. It isn’t boosted by being praised for something we have no control over (e.g. the way we look) nor is it helped by being told off for making mistakes. Praise is most effective if it’s specific (“I liked the way you helped me with my bag”) rather than general (“Well done”) For a short video of some examples of parents using descriptive praise in teenagers, see the bottom of this page.
- If a young person behaves badly, try to discuss the behaviour rather than call them rude, lazy or naughty. If you’re really thinking about it and have time to take a deep breath, offering an alternative behaviour that you’d rather see can be a nice way of doing this e.g.” instead of looking at your phone while we’re talking, could you put it down for a minute?”. No guarantees it will work every time but it’s a lot less undermining and you will feel better too!
- Parents and carers naturally want to help their children in any way possible, fix their problems and remove obstacles in their way. It’s hard to realise that all that help can result in young people feeling less able and more anxious as they haven’t learnt how to negotiate those bumps in the road. That might even mean allowing them to make a choice you don’t think is great and letting them see what happens – as long as it’s safe, of course. Read on for more advice from these charities and professionals.
- Self-Esteem & Mental Health | Guide For Parents
- Helping your child build self-esteem
- The Dove Self-esteem Project: loads of great resources and ideas for parents and carers (and professionals)
- Low self-esteem in children and how you can help as a parent/carer from CAMHS North Derbyshire
- How do I know if my child has low self-esteem and how can I help build my child’s self-esteem? From the charity Action for Children with a quiz, a discussion on social media and self-esteem and links to an activity diary to help highlight when things go well.
- Strong Is The New Pretty and The Heart Of A Boy are two books of glorious photographs by Kate Parker celebrating girls and boys of all ages and their strength, resilience, and spirit.
Video: Using Descriptive Praise
For Young People
Are you feeling low in confidence, feeling bad about yourself or afraid to try new things? The links below are for different ages from year 7 up to young adults, so have a look at what might help you.
- Always putting yourself down?
Boost your confidence with extra advice on building self-belief after bullying and bringing out the best in you.
- Self-esteem and Believing in Yourself | Tips and Advice | YoungMinds
- Six Tips To Boost Your Self-Esteem | YoungMinds
- Raising low self-esteem – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
- Being assertive
- Information for young people on confidence and self-esteem
- Boost your mood and confidence by trying something new Try this game for some ideas
- ‘Happy Confident Me Life Skill Journal’ Written by esteemed and highly reputable Psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, together with Parenting expert and Coach Nadim Saad, the pair have called on their decades of clinical and coaching experience to combine their real-world experiences with the latest research in wellbeing to help children thrive. Age 8 – 13 years.
- The Ultimate Self-Esteem Workbook for Teens: overcome insecurity, defeat your inner critic and live confidently This workbook helps you build up your self-esteem and confidence with creative activities and advice that show you how to think positively, release self-doubt, and start loving who you are. With more than 50 different exercises and true stories from other teens
- Self-esteem | PlantLoveGrow Worksheets to help with self-esteem, self-love, self-acceptance, self-pride, gratitude, positive affirmations, self-respect, body acceptance
- 18 Self-Esteem Worksheets and Activities for Teens and Adults (+PDFs) (positivepsychology.com)
- Working on Self-Esteem: A self-help guide to building self-esteem using cognitive behavioural based techniques. From mental health services in Mid Essex This booklet explains how the problem of low self-esteem can affect people, how it develops, and what keeps it going.