How to Build Your Baby’s or Toddler’s Self-Esteem
Positive self-esteem is one of the greatest characteristics we can help our children develop. It’s what will help them grow into confident, capable people who feel good about themselves and worthy of love from others. It also plays a huge part in helping them handle setbacks and other challenges!
Since we are our children’s first teachers and the ones who are around them most, we can play an active role in helping developing how our children see themselves. Here’s all you need to know about building self-esteem in babies and toddlers, including strategies that can help lay the foundation for healthy self-esteem later in life!
What is self-esteem?
In its simplest form, self-esteem is the way a person thinks about themselves. Having positive self-esteem means that you believe in yourself and feel like you are worthy and belong in the world. For children, self-esteem is formed by how they see themselves and how others behave towards them. For example, when you dance around and have fun with your toddler, she’ll likely feel like she’s loved and fun to be around – which is a sign of positive self-esteem.
Children with positive self-esteem will:
- Feel loved and accepted
- Be confident in themselves
- Feel proud of accomplishments
- Believe they can succeed in life
- Feel good about themselves as a person
Children with low self-esteem will:
- Feel less than other children
- Be critical on themselves
- Lack confidence
- Focus more on their failures than their successes
While a lot of your child’s confidence will be built through school, friends, and hobbies, you can still help boost your little one’s self-esteem from a young age to set them up for higher self-esteem later in life.
How do I build my baby’s self-esteem?
Newborns and babies can’t build much self-esteem, because they aren’t aware that they’re their own person yet. However, you can still lay the groundwork for positive self-esteem, so as they grow, self-esteem builds naturally. Here are some strategies for helping your baby develop self-esteem:
- Respond to your baby’s signals for attention: this is what builds a baby’s trust for their caregivers. When babies have this trust, they feel safe to explore the world.
- Give lots of cuddles: showing your baby that you adore them will make them feel loved and secure, which translates to self-esteem as they grow.
- Be a “home base” when your baby explores: when they start to crawl and explore places, make sure that you’re around when they get nervous or decide that they’re done exploring and need comfort.
- Recognise and celebrate their accomplishments: when your baby accomplishes something that makes them happy or laugh, use facial expressions and words to celebrate these tasks with them.
How do I build my toddler’s self-esteem?
Toddlers have a greater awareness of themselves as their own person. At this age, they’ll want to explore more on their own and have some control over their lives. To help boost your toddler’s self-esteem, you’ll want to help them feel like they are loved, worthy, and capable. Here are a few strategies to boost your toddler’s self-esteem:
- Show unconditional love: just like with babies, giving your little one lots of cuddles and telling them you love them will make them feel like they are loved and loveable.
- Give them options: when toddlers get to choose if they want to wear their blue shirt or pink shirt that day, they feel like their opinions matter.
- Let them say “no” every now and then: if they don’t want to eat something on their plate, let them say no. This helps boost their sense of self and learn about decision making.
- Encourage them to try and try again: let them know that they’re smart and capable, so they feel confident to try new things. If they fail, encourage them to try again. This helps them feel good about themselves, even if they don’t master something on the first go.
- Give them jobs to do around the house: giving toddlers little tasks to do around the house, like carrying your purse to the car, will show that you trust them with tasks, which makes them feel capable and proud of themselves.
- Let them explore, but be there when they need it: as they start to become more independent, let them start to do things alone and take small risks, while still being there for them when they need some reassurance.
We hope that with the above knowledge and strategies, you can feel confident that you are helping boost your little one’s self-esteem. By laying the foundation for positive self-esteem from young age, you’ll really see it in action as they grow into confident, capable children and, later, adults.