It’s great to feel good about yourself. To describe this, people often use words like self-confidence or self-esteem.
Feeling good about yourself doesn’t mean boasting or bragging about how great you are or thinking you’re better than others. Self-confidence and self-esteem are quiet inner strengths. They mean knowing you are a good person — someone who is likable, worthy, and capable.
Having self-confidence and self-esteem means that you:
see the good things about yourself
feel proud of yourself, and of what you can do
feel happy with who you are as a person
believe in yourself
know you belong
Some days, it’s easy to feel this way. You get a good grade on a test you studied hard for. A parent or teacher lets you know they feel proud. You have fun with friends and feel included and liked. On days like these, your self-esteem and your self-confidence feel strong.
And on days when things don’t go as well for you, these inner strengths can help you through.
What Is Low Self-Esteem?
When kids don’t feel as good about themselves, people might say they have low self-esteem. Or say that they need more self-confidence.
When someone’s self-esteem is low, they might:
think they’re not as good as others
not notice the good things about themselves
think more about what they can’t do than what they can do
feel unsure of themselves, or afraid to try
give up too easily
feel bad about themselves if others treat them poorly
Self-esteem and self-confidence can take time to grow strong. But these are strengths that every kid needs and deserves. And every kid can. Because every kid has lots of good qualities. Every kid belongs. Every kid is capable, lovable, likable, and full of ideas to offer. Every kid is worthy of kindness, fairness, dignity, and respect.
What Helps Your Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence?
Parents and teachers can help you learn and try new things. They can praise you when you try, when you do your best, and when you do things for yourself. This helps you see what you’re capable of.
Friends can help when they include you, and treat you with respect, kindness, friendship, and fairness. This helps you know you belong.
You can do things to help yourself, too. For example, you can:
Make a list of the things you can do. Can you draw or sing? Do you dance, play a sport, play music? Can you ride a bike, swim, run fast, throw a ball, work a puzzle, tell a good joke? Are you a good reader, good at math, a science kid, a history buff? Little things count too. Can you make your bed, get dressed and ready? Start your homework or brush your teeth without being reminded? Can you set the table, help make food, put your dishes away, walk the dog?
After you’ve made the list, look over all the things you are capable of. Let yourself feel happy and proud.
Practice doing some things on your list. Each one you do is a chance to feel good about yourself. It’s a chance to get better at the things you can do, too. When you feel capable, your confidence and self-esteem can grow.
Make a list of your good qualities. Your strengths include more than what you’re able to do. You have character strengths, too. Think about the good qualities you show toward others. Do you try to be kind, fair, honest? Are you friendly, helpful, funny? Are you a good listener, an animal lover? Are you full of energy? Are you calm and easygoing? Are you creative, brave, athletic?
Try to show one (or more) of your good qualities every day. Notice how the good qualities you show can make a difference to the people around you. Notice how using your good qualities makes you feel good, too.
Turn "I can't" into "I can!" When things seem hard at first, kids sometimes think, "I'm no good at this," or, "I can't do it," or, "It's too hard for me.”
Instead, think, "I can give it a try," "I can handle this." Think, "I'll give it my best." Think, "I'll ask someone to help me do this.” Thinking in a more confident way helps you feel good about yourself. It also makes you more likely to try. Expect to do well. Say to yourself, “I think I can do this.” Then practice, study, or prepare. You might be surprised at (and proud of) what you can do.
Try your best. You can feel good about yourself when you give something a try. You don’t have to be the best. You don’t have to win every time. When you give something your best effort, your self-esteem will grow.
Spend time with people who love you. Do things you enjoy with your parent, family, or friends. This helps you know you belong. Notice the times you feel accepted, included, and loved. Notice how you feel about yourself at these times. See the good in others, too.
Do good things for others. Do nice things for parents. Help with meals, clean up, feed the pet, be kind to little siblings. Listen when a friend wants to talk. Share something you have. Carry a package for a neighbor. Help your teacher put things away in the classroom. Smile at someone. Include someone or ask them to play.
Think about a good thing you did yesterday. How do you feel when you think about it? Notice how when you do kind things, you feel good about yourself. You get to see that what you do matters and means a lot. Let your inner strengths shine!