One Word To Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem

One Word To Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Many parents think of self-esteem as their child’s inner voice – the guiding words that tells your child whether they are good enough to do or achieve something.

Here’s the thing – that’s not quite what Self-esteem is.

Self-esteem is actually about how we value ourselves, and how we see our own capabilities. It’s your child’s beliefs and perceptions about who they are and what they are capable of that shapes their self-esteem.

Why does Self-Esteem matter to children and development?

how children develop emotional intelligence

Very often children hold themselves back from trying something new. They do this out of fear of failure or because they firmly remember a time they tried something but didn’t do well.

The stronger your child’s self-esteem, the more likely they are to try things despite not knowing if they will success or fail. This is a very good skill to have while growing.

You can help break that cycle of failure avoidance, and boost your child’s self esteem at the same time.

Here’s how ONE WORD can help you boost your child’s self-esteem:

“I can’t do it!” said my 3 year old daughter as she struggled with her t-shirt.

“You haven’t figured it out just yet. I saw you trying.” was my answer. “Would you like more time to work on that?”

“Yes!” My daughter tried again and struggled again. She poked her arms through the neckline, she took her shirt off again and sat there, looking at me in her swim suit and completely frustrated. “Nope….not yet mama….”

“Not yet, sweet pea!” I said.

“Ughghgh…. I try ONE more time!!”  offered my daughter, not quite happy but not willing to give up either.

I sat down and waited. I started reading a book and then…a little smile showed up right in my face, with her t-shirt on, she took her hands and placed them on my cheeks “DONE MAMA!” and she walked away singing.

Did you catch the one word I used to boost my daughters trust in her own abilities?

It’s so tempting to jump in and DO things for our children.

Sometimes schedules are tight, and maybe you just don’t feel like you can wait. But…Children can and do acquire  problem-solving skills, confidence and grit through experience.

Every child with a strong sense of self-esteem has spent a good deal of time trying things, failing and trying again.

Sometimes children will choose to give up and revisit another day…that’s ok too. No need to force, bribe or make wild promises.

More valuable than prizes, and big praises: Offer trust, patience and encouragement to your child.

Your child’s own successes will be their biggest motivators.

Oh and this one magical word


It is a really powerful word.

It can infuse hope and encouragement into a child that is struggling or doubting herself.

Our words have an impact on how children choose to move forward.  

  • “That’s not right”
  • “hold it! let me do that for you”
  • “that’s not how it’s done”
  • “No, stop it, you aren’t doing that well”
using consequences to change behavior
Photo by Meruyert Gonullu on

Such words can be very discouraging to children.  On the other hand you can choose words that offer encouragement and help your child not give up:

  • “not YET”
  • “I see you trying”
  • “you can’t do it YET, want to try again?”
  • “want more time to work on that?”

These words boost your child’s self-esteem because they are very encouraging.

World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck explains in this video why “YET”  is a fantastic and encouraging word and a great confidence booster!

So, what words do you choose for encouraging your child when she is struggling?

Peace & Be Well,

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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a Masters in Psychology and is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, and one cuddly dog.

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