Building Self Worth in Children

The Difference Between Self-Worth and Self-Esteem

Dr. Jon Demartini outlines the differences between self-worth and self-esteem:

"Self-worth: Is more stable and longer lasting and is based upon how much you feel you ‘deserve’ something as a result of what you feel you have earned or contributed to the world. When deep inside you feel unworthy or you feel you don’t deserve this can be considered lower self-worth. Self-worth is more important to concentrate on and cultivate and is more mission driven.

Self-esteem: Is more immediate, situational and temperamental. It can change from moment to moment or hour to hour based on more superficial things such as how you look on a particular day or how you are dressed. Self-esteem is more fickle in its nature and is passion driven more. Pride and shame fluctuate."  ( Ref: Dr. John Demartini -; 20 August 2017)

Today's article will cover some aspects of how to build the more important feeling of self-worth in your children.

Building Self-Worth In Children

Building Self Worth in Children

As parents we want our children to be confident and independent as learners. Self-worth plays an important role in a child’s ability to develop the skills necessary to become aware of how language works and how they can use language to develop social skills and build self-worth. Building self-worth in your children is a parenting skill you use every day. Children with high self-worth will achieve at their level of capability. Children with developing levels of self-worth will need more time and understanding to allow them to gain a healthy self-worth.

Healthy self-worth is a solid foundation for life and helps determine success.  As a general rule, self-worth is established in childhood and nurtured throughout life. Children are moulded and shaped by the words and actions of others. As a parent you are the most significant person in the life of your children so be mindful of your responsibility to encourage and develop their self-worth.

As a Parent How Can I Build My Child’s Self-Worth?  

Children with high self-worth are positive in their approach to life and learning. Children with lower self-esteem may be withdrawn and negative in their response to learning. Self-worth can be boosted if a learner is exposed to positive experiences. As a parent you need to be aware of what language you are using as words tend to stay with children in a positive or negative way. Give praise and be constructive. Do not pick on lack of success but encourage and assist for a positive outcome. Remember you are a role model.

Show warmth in your responses to your children’s efforts. Acknowledge their efforts as this will go a long way to helping children feel appreciated and cared about. Value their opinions and validate their feelings. Children of all ages are vulnerable when learning new skills. Give plenty of time and encouragement so your children can grow and nurture their own self esteem.

       Ideas for Parent

  • Early development of confidence in literacy which builds self-esteem, is encouraging children to make up their own story while looking at pictures. Let them ‘read’ aloud to you or siblings, or the cat! Believing in their own ability to know how language works is part of the foundation for literacy learning and building self-worth in learning.
  • Know where your child is developmentally and keep competition with other children’s development out of your interaction with your children. Comparing children’s abilities within their hearing can have a negative impact on self-worth.
  • Encouraging problem solving in life activities also builds confidence to make choices about what they want, and gives them an appreciation of the needs of others.
  • Learning from mistakes, and how to appropriately react to making mistakes, can be a huge areas of learning how to feel good about themselves. The parent in these situations is the role model, so your reactions and consequences are a vital learning experience for children. Your response will also dictate the outcome, positive or negative, for your children. Remember you are not looking for perfection just a positive learning experience and to build self-worth.
  • Teaching children to engage in planning activities, and the process of their day, also requires decision making and compromise. This helps to build self-worth if they see that you understand their choices as important.
  • Care of their environment breads responsibility and trust in their ability to carry out tasks. This may be as simple as clearing up toys, or for an older child, making their bed each morning.
  • Being the teacher is a game played by children to practice adult behaviours. You are the role model so you will smile when you hear your words being spoken to others as your child plays the ‘teacher role’.

The aim of building self-worth is for children to feel empowered to trust in their ability to gain a passion for learning. Building self-worth require a safe environment where children can voice opinions and pose questions which should be answered in the context of the age and understanding of the child.

If children are allowed to explore their world; be inquisitive; gain inner confidence: own their mistakes; and be guided in a positive and nurturing environment; then they will develop skills to build higher self-worth.

As a parent you know your children best and recognise their strengths and weaknesses.  Encouraging children to believe in their own abilities to accomplish tasks; gain control of their emotions; and grow socially, increases their self-worth.  As parents, watching your children grow and develop, empowers you to raise children with high self-worth. Remember you are doing a great job!!



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Heather Collins

Heather Collins is an Early Childhood and Special Education Teacher who makes developmentally appropriate resources for teachers and parents to use with their children. She is author and co-author of poetry books and children’s books. She is a passionate collagist and has crafted beautiful finger puppets and story aprons suitable for early childhood education.

Her resources can be purchased on this website or she can be contacted at Create-Ed by emailing You can order an original apron for any favourite storybook.

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