Children are born with belief and optimism to dream big. Switching from a tea-towel cape to a cardboard box helmet is all it takes to go from being a superhero saving the lives of teddy bears everywhere to an astronaut exploring the outermost galaxies.

However, as kids grow and learn more about the world around them, they face obstacles and challenges, and the doubt can creep in. Their confidence may be knocked and self-belief can wane.

Throw social media and societal pressures, school closures and developmental changes into the mix and it’s easy to see why there is a feeling of uncertainty among our children today.

A new report has revealed up to 1 in 5 Aussie kids reported negative self-esteem when they started high school.

The survey of 27,000 Australian primary and secondary school students, conducted by Forge Wellbeing for the Weet-Bix Feed The Belief Report, also found a fall in self-esteem through the high school years.

Self-esteem is the extent to which humans value themselves – in short, it’s about liking who you are.

Positive self-esteem builds confidence and allows children to try new things, take healthy risks, act independently and take pride in their accomplishments. Negative self-esteem can impact quality of life, and result in children having negative feelings, problems socialising with others, a fear of giving things a go, and a fear of judgement.

So, how can you maintain and nurture your child’s self-esteem?  We asked psychologist, parenting expert and founder of Happy Families, Dr Justin Coulson for his 5 top tips:

  1. Foster friendships

Healthy, positive relationships are crucial to establishing and maintaining self-esteem.

Kids need mates. We all do. It’s important for children to have and maintain friendships throughout their school years as it promotes continuity in people they can confide in and share experiences with.

You can help by encouraging get togethers; supporting friendships that are positive and important to your child; and expanding their friendships networks beyond school, so if relationships with one group declines, there are other friends to lean on.

  1. Nurture family connections

Kids with parents or caregivers who are highly involved in their lives generally fare better academically, emotionally and socially. Healthy relationships with parents will help a child know they are loved and belong to a family that values them.

As a Dad of six, I know finding time can be tough but even minutes matter. Mirco-interactions such as having breakfast together, chatting on the ride to school or walking the dog together are all moments to connect, listen and open dialogue. Talking casually can encourage your kids to share their own stories and thoughts.

It can also be valuable to have regular check ins to get a sense of your child’s emotions and thoughts, so you can chat through any changes, whether big or small.

  1. Encourage school belonging

Kids spend a third of their day at school, which makes a sense of “school belonging” vital. As well as healthier self-esteem, children who feel part of the school community tend to have better grades, closer friendships, and more positive mental health than those who are disconnected.

A good start is to encourage and support participation in school groups and joining school activities that foster community and connection. It’s doesn’t matter whether that’s sports, bands, or drama. Just follow your child’s passion.

  1. Discover their strengths

There’s a bigger knock-on effect to encouraging your child to follow their passions. Whether through school or extra-curricular, exploring their interest will help your child develop new skills, identify their strengths and build self-esteem.

Rather than steering your child towards an activity you want them to do, encourage their ideas and let them try their hand at a few different things that interest them, that way they can decide what they love as well as what they’re good at! This also helps to build autonomy.

  1. Don’t forget healthy habits

Don’t underestimate the basics. Encouraging a wholistic approach to health and wellbeing from an early age will help to foster and maintain a child’s self-esteem. This includes things like being physically active and having a healthy, balanced diet, getting enough sleep at night, participating in household responsibility (yes having chores) and setting clear boundaries for screen time.

To learn more about the importance of building and maintaining self-esteem and promoting a positive outlook in children, and for more of Dr Justin Coulson’s advice, download a copy of the Feed The Belief Report.

This article is shared and powered by mom.Connect

  • The comments tend to agree with the author, as do I,, but I’m concerned that they are only talking about older (11+) age groups. Self esteem is also an issue for kindy aged children. If they don’t have enough, they might as well wear a big sign stating ” ignore/ bully me”. Kindy teachers are generally overworked and underpaid, so they may accidently assume you have a quiet child when they are actually very low in self esteem. And we can all remember that kid in your class, who always believed they had the right to do anything to anyone. How about parents actually teaching children about consequences from the first month? Obviously as is suitable for their age! Also allowing children to explore their environment. For example, when they are crawling, let them crawl on the lawn. Either your own or at the local park. For most parents, it’s remarkably easy to run and scoop up a crawling child well before they get close to a road.


  • Love these tips!! Thanks for sharing!


  • Children need positivity to come our of their shell!


  • Children need friends and positive interactions to grow! It’s so hard with the pandemic to foster these relationships. We’ve been lucky to have a family dynamic change abs the kids are enjoying time together and building good relationships but I do worry about not having enough outside of family.

    Micro interactions are something if never really thought about but it does make sense


  • Children need friends and positive interactions to grow! It’s so hard with the pandemic to foster these relationships. We’ve been lucky to have a family dynamic change abs the kids are enjoying time together and building good relationships but I do worry about not having enough outside of family


  • These are all great tips for increasing self confidence and self esteem!


  • Lots of good points as this is something very relevant for me and my oldest


  • Some good points.
    I think the whole family thing is super important – from birth you as a parent show your child love and affection. I think this helps to foster good relationships as they grow older.


  • This is a fantastic list and lots to achieve but great pointers!


  • This is pretty sensible, but can be hard to implement at times.


  • Some great tips!


  • These are simple but essential points.


  • This is a great article. I’m always trying to find time for one on one with my four kids and its not always easy, especially with a demanding toddler but I know how important it is.


  • Thank you for the interesting article.


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