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What Is Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem is a way of thinking and feeling about yourself.

Kids with self-esteem:

Low self-esteem is another way of thinking and feeling about yourself.

Kids with low self-esteem:

Which one best describes you most of the time?

Self-Esteem Affects Almost Everything You Do

Here are three things to remember about self-esteem:

  1. Having self-esteem helps you. Self-esteem helps you have the courage to try new things, like making new friends. With self-esteem, you believe in yourself. You know that good things can happen when you try your best.
  2. Having low self-esteem can hurt you. Low self-esteem makes kids feel unsure of themselves. They doubt they can do things as well as others. They lack the confidence to go after their goals.
  3. You can grow your self-esteem. Self-esteem can begin with things parents say when a kid is very young. For example, a parent might tell a baby, "Look what you can do — you're walking all by yourself!" Hearing and thinking good things makes the baby feel proud and feel good. As you get older, you can keep self-esteem going by noticing when you've learned to do something or achieve something new. Riding a bike, learning to play a song, or doing a math problem are all things to notice in a happy way. You don't have to brag out loud, but you can give yourself a quiet little high-five. Yay, you!

You also can take note when things don't go your way. Everybody makes mistakes. If you miss the soccer goal or lose a library book, try not to get too mad at yourself. Instead, try again. That's self-esteem in action.

How to Boost Your Self-Esteem:

Try these steps:

Kids with good self-esteem are more likely to try again. They expect to do better next time — and usually they do!

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: August 2015

Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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