Saturday, February 5, 2011


Dear Mr. Morton- Our elementary school son has a low self-esteem. Can you recommend any resources that teach parents how to raise their child’s confidence?- Anonymous

(photo compliments of Dear Anonymous- Self-esteem cannot be taught directly, formally, through self-help books, or by viewing videos on the topic.

One’s sense of self worth emerges incidentally, naturally, and gradually through many positive interactions at home, all of which make kids feel secure and good about themselves. A positive self-esteem arises from an encouraging home atmosphere. Here’s some parenting practices and styles which make kids feel good about themselves:
Unconditional Love. Love your son without strings attached. Confident kids know their parents accept them, while uncertain and fearful children feel they were never quite right in their parents’ eyes.

Offer compliments, not criticism. Be quick in looking for the best in your son and be slow in pinpointing his flaws. Adult functioning can be harmed by never-ending compliments and restored by constructive criticism. But, maturing children blossom from the opposite. Listen and talk to your son often. Children need to know their parents are interested in what they’re thinking, what interests them, and what is troubling them. Treat your son as a special and unique individual. All children carry their own developmental internal clock, one different from all others. Self-assured kids maintain importance in their parents’ minds simply because they exist. Apprehensive children sense that parental glory is gained solely through achievement credentials.

Kids gain confidence and courage knowing that mom and dad are readily available if a problem should arise. Unsure children have to keep everything bottled up inside.
Discipline your son fairly and consistently. He needs unwavering guidelines so his life is predictable, not erratic. Imagine the chaos if we were forced to drive on highways absent of median lines, speed limits, traffic lights and stop signs. Children navigate through life confidently when given a predictable code of conduct, but apprehensively under chaotic rules.
Lastly, read the article "Teen low self-esteem may have life-long consequences".

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions as School Psychologist for Fremont City Schools and adjunct professor in The School Of Leadership And Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. Questions about parenting, family, educational, or personal concerns? Contact him at the secure Bpath Mail Form.