Healthy self-esteem is feeling good about yourself, and feeling that you are a worthwhile person. It is important for children to feel okay about themselves most of the time even we all have self-doubts at times.

Self-esteem enables them to try new things without too much fear of failing, to reach out and make friends, and to manage problems they are likely to meet along the way. Self-esteem builds a solid foundation for coping with life.

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is about valuing who you are. It is about liking yourself and self-respect. It is not boastfulness or conceit, but about believing in yourself and what you can do in the world.
Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself as a person and knowing that there are things that you can do well. It is about being and about doing.

Part of self-esteem is feeling that you have a place in the world where you belong – that you are part of a family where you matter. It’s knowing about your roots and having confidence in your future. This can be a problem for children who have been part of a family break-up if they are split off from part of their family and the history of that part of the family.

Children are not born with self-esteem. It is learned through how parents and other important people treat them and feel about them. Self-esteem is what matters to you. Your self-esteem will grow if you get encouragement and help in something you want to do, and you succeed.

Why is self-esteem important?

Self-esteem helps people to feel that they can develop their own skills and contribute to their community. It gives you the confidence to have a go at something new and helps you build resilience to overcome setbacks.

When people have low self-esteem they don’t feel confident about doing things for themselves or using their abilities and talents in the best way they can. Low self-esteem is also likely to be linked to worse health outcomes such as stress, coronary heart disease and an increase in anti-social behaviors.

It is important to help develop children’s self-esteem from the time they are born to give them a good foundation for health later in adult life. Children of all cultures need to have a place in the family and need to know they are loved because of the special people they are.

Cultural differences

It’s important to recognize that some people in some cultures believe that feeling good about your group or community is important while feeling good about yourself as an individual is not as valued. In some cultures, it’s common practice for parents not to praise their child for fear it will create a self-satisfaction that will prevent the child from trying harder.

In some cultures, praise is also avoided to prevent a child from becoming ‘boastful’. However, having personal confidence and self-esteem does not mean giving up these cultural values, but it can add to them. Children when they feel good usually try harder than those who don’t.

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