8 Parenting Mistakes That Affect Your Child’s Self-Esteem

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This is a guest post from Patricia Dimick.

8 Parenting Mistakes That Affect Your Child's Self-Esteemimage © Oksana Kuzmina/Dollar Photo Club

Self-esteem, sometimes referred to as self-respect, is a person’s subjective and often emotional valuation of their own worth. Self-esteem is what gives us the courage to try new things and believe in ourselves while doing so.

By helping kids develop a healthy self-esteem, you can make sure they have strong coping skills, which is a trait that will help them throughout their lives. As parents, we sometimes make mistakes, which is perfectly fine—unless those mistakes negatively affect a child’s self-esteem.

To avoid them, we first need to know what they are.

8 Parenting Mistakes That Affect Children’s Self-Esteem

Criticizing Them 

When we criticize our kids, it’s easy to unintentionally get personal.

Comments such as saying that you’re disappointed in them negatively affect their self-esteem, moods and willingness to try new things. They link their successes and failures with their character.

When your child makes mistakes, focus on the action rather than the child.

Giving Them Too Much Praise

While praise builds self-esteem and confidence, it’s also important to know when to use this positive feedback tool.

Praise children’s specific actions, their effort and the skills they used to achieve the goals, rather than their personal traits. This will help them know that their effort is important.

Controlling Their Lives

Rather than coordinating all of your child’s actions, you can direct them just until they acquire certain skills.

Give them space to explore and discover things independently. As they get older, you’ll be able talk with them about making good choices without making it seem like you’re pushing your own ambitions onto them. Follow their interests and support them as they try new activities and skills.

Doing Everything for Them

Although you can do most things more quickly and efficiently than young kids can, letting them do some things on their own fosters their independence and sense of efficacy.

When you kids can complete a task such as getting dressed or doing the dishes on their own, they will feel more capable and sufficient. They’ll be able to problem solve, think for themselves, try out alternative options and learn to cope with setbacks.

8 Parenting Mistakes That Affect Your Child's Self-Esteemimage © fasphotographic/Dollar Photo Club

Striving for Perfection

Setting too high standards for your kids could have the opposite of your desired effects, as kids can become anxious and fearful of disappointing you.

Let your child learn from mistakes and teach them that making a mistake is not the same as failure. These situations can be learning experiences about what not to do. These mistakes also bring new opportunities for trying a different approach. 

Neglecting Communication

Healthy communication creates a positive family environment and strengthens emotional bonds. The ways and times you communicate with your kids has considerable effects on their level of self-esteem.

Even if you have a long to-do list, make healthy communication with your kids a priority. Acknowledge your child’s feelings, show your interest in what they’re doing and ask questions to gain a better understanding of their opinions.

Actively listening to what they’re saying and letting them get out their entire thought before responding helps your kids realize that they are valued and that their wants, needs and opinions matter to you.

Comparing Them to Others

One of the worst mistakes that a parent can make is to compare one child to another.

No matter whether the comparison is to a sibling or even yourself when you were your child’s age, your child perceives such comparisons as you saying they are not good enough. No two people are exactly alike and no good comes from comparisons.

Expressing Your Own Lack of Self-Esteem

In order to foster a strong sense of self-esteem in your kids, you need to show it in yourself as well.

Kids take in every word and action of yours. Speak in positive terms about yourself, rather than being self-deprecating. Model behaviors that show compassion, kindness and self-confidence. Teach your kids how to think and act in tough times by modeling a can-do attitude.

By seeing this strong sense of self in you at a young age, your kids will likely gain their own self-confidence—and keep it for their entire lives.


Building your child’s self-esteem means helping them realize that they’re competent and capable individuals. To do that, you can create opportunities where they get to take chances and experience their own successes.

You can be supportive when they make mistakes, rather than criticizing or stepping in to solve the problem. Let them figure out a new approach to success. This helps your kids know that you care for them and value them for who they are and the effort they put into their activities, not just what they achieve.


How do you foster self-esteem in your kids?

Headshot Patricia DimickPatricia Dimick is a Denver based freelance writer and a fun stay-at-home mom. This passionate coffee drinker loves to write about parenting topics and enjoys DIY projects. Patricia spends her free time playing table tennis or enjoying trips to nature with her precious daughter and loving husband. You can reach her @patricia_dimick or via the social media channels below.
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