(This is an excerpt from a talk I was asked to give to the parents at San Diego French American School March 19, 2014. The parents voted on which topics I would discuss in my presentation- and this was right at the top of their list!) We all want our children to have a strong sense of self-confidence and self-esteem. But how do we teach them this? Believe it or not, it is easier than you think. The way we talk and interact with our children on a daily basis help shape how they think of themselves and their own capabilities. Check out these quick six strategies on how to teach our children to truly feel good about who they are, all from the comfort of your own home..

  • Praise effort, regardless of the outcome!  Pay attention to the effort your child makes, and watch how you dole out the praise.  For example,if your child is struggling to write their name correctly say “I’m really proud of you for trying to write your name!It’s tricky isn’t it? ”  Validate their feelings of frustration and discouragement if they have any -Acknowledge that some things are easy and some are not! And don’t feel the need to tell your child that their handwritten name (the outcome) was ‘great’ when it is still obviously a work in progress ! No one is great all the time, and your child will see through that. Kids who are told GREAT JOB too often, are as a result too often  focused on the outcomes. They may come to THINK they SHOULD be great all the time, and of course in reality,are falling short of your GREAT expectations!


  • Allow your child to experience challenges – avoid the temptation to make things easy for your child by removing limits, challenges, or frustrations JUST to avoid negative feelings; Self-confidence comes from the ability of working through challenges and learning you can do it!


  • Model imperfection! – talk about what YOU aren’t good at, or what YOU find difficult. When you are frustrated, SAY IT! Show your child by example that there is no such thing as perfect!


  • Normalize your child’s disappointment, frustration, by talking about how others experience the same frustrations as well. TEACH PERSPECTIVE TAKING. Children are often very self-centered in their viewpoints which leads them to feel as though they are the ‘ONLY ONE’ who experiences something negative.


  • Find things they are naturally good at, and emphasize those strengths in comparison with others. Find opportunities for them to TEACH OTHERS their special skill or ability.


  • When you need to correct behavior, label the behavior NOT your child.Be very clear about explaining to your child that while they may exhibit ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ behavior sometimes (e.g. hitting), they themselves are NOT ‘bad kids’!

Thoughts, questions, or feedback? Leave me your comments…

– Dr. Deb : )