How to Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Praise is more meaningful when it helps children appreciate their achievements.

Children’s self-esteem can come from recognizing how much work they put into meeting a goal.

The words you use to praise children show them how to look at their own efforts.

You know it’s important to praise children. But it’s even more meaningful for children to learn to appreciate their own efforts. Self-esteem comes from working hard toward a goal and feeling good about it. So when children see that their hard work is paying off, it helps them develop the ability to self-praise. What you say—and how you say it—can help children to recognize things that they should be proud of. Here are some suggestions.


The project you’re looking at is good, but you know that more effort could have gone into it.

Try saying…

“That’s a great start.”

The self-praise connection

“How do you like it?”

“Do you think it’s your best effort?”

This approach helps children reflect on whether their work measures up to their expectations. It also asks them to consider how hard they worked and whether they’re proud of the effort they put in.

At Wriggles and Giggles Sessions we repeat activities that will help with all stages of development from birth to 5 years We also help with ideas to take home and parenting tips and techniques. To join a group in Yarm, Darlington, Hartburn, Ingleby Barwick, Newton Aycliffe send us an email


Your child has done something well, but is downplaying the positive actions and success of the effort.

Try Saying…

“You may not think it’s a big deal, but it was kind of you to stick up for your friend.”

The self-praise connection

“It sounds like you’re proud. What about this makes you feel that way?”

This approach points out what you think is worthy of praise and what you value. It also asks children to think about what they’re proud of and what they value.


You know your child worked hard but still didn’t meet the goal.

Try Saying…

“I’m sorry you didn’t quite make it to your goal. You got close! Do you feel like you can do it the next time?”

The self-praise connection

“It’s nice that you enjoyed the books you did read, even though reading can be hard for you.”

This approach asks children to reflect on what worked, not just what needs improvement. It also helps children learn to be OK with doing things they like to do, but aren’t great at.

Wriggles and Giggles have over 50 Early Years Interactive Videos available to enjoy with your child in Dance, Sign, Puppets, Action, Match and Sound Games from our sessions using this link.