The core values of At My Best include helping students develop their emotional health. Helping children feel good about themselves and being supportive of others while developing skills related to maintaining emotional well-being, is an important aspect of health, and integral to a healthy learning environment. 

In addition to the activities and information contained in At My Best, this site includes a variety of additional tips, tools and suggestions that allow parents and teachers to understand and support the development of positive self-esteem and emotional well-being in their children and students.

When does the development of self-esteem start? 

The development of self esteem starts in infancy, when a child develops strong attachments to the people who are responsible for their safety and basic needs. This is also when a child begins to formulate a sense of trust for those around them. When a parent provides a child with what they need, a healthy attachment is formed and this acts as the foundation for the child developing a sense of security and understanding. As children get older and start interacting with other children in a school setting, the development of self esteem is then also influenced by their sense of acceptance and belonging in a group.

Many people believe praise is the key to children feeling good about themselves. Certainly, making children feel great about taking the initiative to follow expectations is part of the package. However, an over abundance of praise is not always the best way to build self esteem in young children. Setting limits, establishing expectations and being honest with children supports the development of self-discipline and the ability to think critically. These skills contribute to increasing self esteem because children are learning skills that will enable them to be a contributing member of their community as they grow older and begin to interact with different groups of people.

Tips for Parents

There are many ways that parents play an active role in promoting self-esteem in their children. Use the tips below that work best for you and your child. 

  • Practice open communication. Appreciate and recognize your child’s efforts and responsible thinking. There is more value in that than in praise for the actual task being completed.
  • Participate in true to life activities. Involve your child in your everyday activities. Cook together, eat together, be physically active together as a family. Include your child in household chores and activities, talk about managing money.
  • Provide ongoing support. Help your child overcome hardships or defeats in a positive way. Try to talk things through honestly, at their level. Create strategies to try the next time a similar situation happens.
  • Focus on your child’s strengths. Help your child identify their strengths to them and celebrate them with your child. Choose activities that highlight these strengths.
  • Celebrate success. Let your child know that you are proud of what they have accomplished and the person that they are.
  • Book It! Walk to the library and collect books that have positive messages and demonstrate ways to care about yourself and show caring for others. Read and discuss the books together.
  • Highlight the positive. Talk about what was good about your day.  Try to have a positive outlook and have members of the family focus on positive things that happened that day.
  • Accept your child for who he/she is. Embrace their strengths and celebrate their differences.
  • Believe in your child.  Trust in your child’s ability to succeed and make good choices. Your child will feel valued if he or she knows you believe in their abilities and talents.
  • Offer encouragement. Promote your child trying new things. Lead by example and try new skills too (skiing, horseback riding, basketball etc.).
  • Demonstrate respect. Use kind language, listen attentively to your child about his or her ideas.
  • Make time for quality time. Turn off the computer, the phones and personal electronic devices and have some fun with your child.
  • Avoid Competition. Avoid creating competitions or offering rewards for behaviours that are expected. You want your child to be intrinsically motivated.
  • Tell your story. When your children feel afraid, sad or frustrated, you can comfort them by sharing your life experiences through a story. They will be able to connect with what you say because they trust you and depend on you for so much.
  • Help your child to set goals. Talk about things they would like to do or try to do with more success.
  • Take things day by day. Make a calendar and fill in one great, healthy, or active thing the family did as a group! 

Encouraging Words

  • “I like the way you…..”
  • “I know you can……”
  • “I appreciate that you…..”
  • “I liked your thinking when…”
  • “You made me feel really good when…”
  • “I think you are doing a great job at …”
  • “Thank you for…”
  • “I was proud of you when I …”
  •  “You demonstrated thoughtfulness when…”

Ensuring a Supportive Environment

Physical activity not only enhances health (i.e. strength, flexibility, endurance), but also influences positive attitudes, self-esteem and self-confidence. Active participation in physical activity is encouraged and is optimized by building it into part of each and every day. One of the best ways to do this is to be active together. There are so many activities families can do to be active and model dedication to being healthy, such as:

  • Plant a vegetable garden and eat the produce that grows
  • Walk or bike to school together
  • Organize a hikers club with other families in the area
  • Encourage participation in intramural sports at school
  • Hold a “Sports of All Sorts” night and try a new sport with the family once a week
  • Have relay races to deliver laundry to the correct locations in the house
  • Organize a community play date involving fun cooperative games

Parents can help children learn to feel good about themselves by being supportive of others and by being involved in their community. Here are some ways you can help in your community:

  • Volunteering time for events such as community runs, triathlons, fundraisers
  • Helping others in need
  • Yard clean ups for the school or elderly neighbours
  • Visiting a home for the elderly
  • Preparing a healthy meal at a local food bank 

Helpful Resources

How to do
Self-esteem activities for kids: Fun Confidence Boosters

Raising Resilient Children - Featured Books

Child Development Institute
Helping your child develop self-esteem

Joy Stories
Award winning stories designed to raise the self-esteem of your child

Kids Health
The #1 most-visited website for children's health and development