How to Build Up Self Esteem: The Power of Encouragement

by Brenda Yoder, MA

how to build up self esteem

Self-esteem is a fragile part of a child’s world.

With the school-year wrapping up and summer around the corner, kids are already thinking about the next school year.

Common questions are:

  • What will my classes be like?  Will I like my teachers?
  • Will my friends be in my class?  Will I make better grades?

In the minds of most students, additional questions creep in:

Will I fit in next year?  Will I be accepted?

Every person, no matter what age, wants to be accepted.

This longing is accentuated even more in childhood and adolescence.  It takes one mean comment, a harsh word, or crude remark from a classmate for a child to question their self-esteem and confidence.

“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is a nursery rhyme children from past generations have repeated when hurt by mean words.

While the old adage of letting hurtful words “roll off” is sound advice, it ignores that fact that harsh words do wound the spirit.

How to build up self esteem?

It takes several positive comments to “undo” one negative comment.

For children, negative comments at home, compounded by damaging remarks from classmates crushes their self-esteem and confidence.

A child experiencing this learns to believe they are worthy of degrading comments.

Over time, put-downs are expected and self-esteem is depleted.

Just as the power of mean words has harmful effects, the power of positive words has healthy effects on kids of any age.

So how to build up self esteem in your kids?

A child encouraged at home is more equipped to handle harsh words from a classmate.

Affirmation, praise, and genuine kindness to a child or adolescent buffers the cruelty of playground hierarchy and unsupervised situations where students verbally assault each other.

 Praise and positive encouragement can equip a child to handle harassment with courage and strength.

As your child heads off to school each day, be generous with affirming and encouraging words.

Fill their emotional “bucket” so full, that when damaging words are dumped on them, they have something to draw from.

You have the greatest investment tool with no financial risk at your fingertips –  the power of encouragement.

It reaps exponential rewards.

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