Alongside feeding them frequently, clothing them daily and keeping them alive (we know the list is endless) there is one thing above all others that we parents need to be doing. We need to teach our children self-love.

Self-esteem in children develops very early, and psychologists and child experts now know it is the central component for a life time of happiness. A child’s self-esteem and self-love is acquired not inherited so there is no job more important for a parent (it’s only their whole happiness in our hands – not MUCH responsibility then).

Don’t panic though as we’ve pulled in Miss Manners to give us her ten top tips on teaching our children self-love.


I know sometimes it can he difficult to love the little critters but no child can have too much love. Offer daily hugs and kisses, kind words, smiles and tell them that you love them frequently. Children who feel loved and accepted, love themselves and are comfortable in their own skin. Of course, this is almost impossible when they are behaving badly so yell and scream and then tell them you love them. Personally, I always found the “I Love you but I don’t like you right now’ works a treat.


Now, we’re not talking about preening on Instagram, this is about your OWN self-esteem and self-love. If you are kind and generous to yourself, then you child will see it. If you are hard on yourself then your children will mirror your behaviour. Model self-love by rewarding and praising yourself when you do something well.

Of course we’ll miserable sometimes, no one can put on a happy face all the time, but a child will translate a parent’s unhappiness with unhappiness with them and that is just no good. If you’re properly unhappy then obviously get help, but if its just a bad mood then snap out of it pronto.


It is important to give your child praise WHEN IT IS DERSERVED because children measure their worth and achievements by what you think. But please be realistic in your praise. Despite how they sometimes look, kids are not stupid. If you tell them how amazing their cereal packet stuck to a loo roll holder is or if they have done something else spectacularly unimpressive then they will not trust your praise in future. If your child is creatively challenged (which let’s admit many are) then praise the effort, not the results.


Now us oldies know that life has setbacks, failures and disappointments so we need to show our kids that nobody succeeds at everything all the time (well apart from dear Gwyneth who even divorced amicably). Children need to learn that setbacks are a normal part of life and can be managed. Reassure them that it’s OK to fail, tell them to get up again, tell them to try again, tell him that some things take repeated effort and practice. The classic Try Try then Try again.


Believe it or not children like boundaries and rules. They are more confident when they know what is expected of them. This nampy pampy parenting of being your child’s ‘best friend’ will do them no good. You are a parent so act like one! Even if your child thinks you are too strict, following rules gives children a sense of security and confidence. Whatever your household rules, be clear on what is important in your family. Someday when your child is feeling peer pressure, they may appreciate having the foundation and confidence to say, “No, I can’t do that, my Mum will go MAD”.



Give kids a feeling of accomplishment by displaying their achievements no matter how small. As children walk by their wall and see what they have achieved it will give them a lift, especially during times when their self-worth maybe faltering.


List the jobs to be done whether expected, pocket money chores or extra jobs they can earn money for. Children are reward oriented and this will teach them about responsibility and money.


Get them to write a list of their successes and their positive attributes such as being kind. They can also write a list of what they want to improve at. This will boost their self-confidence as well as giving them a goals to aim for.


Parents you’re going to love this. One of the main ways children develop self-confidence is through doing jobs at home. Now I’m not saying that you can lose your cleaner but it must be great to know you have permission to put them to work! Obviously the jobs need to be age appropriate but you will be surprised what they can achieve if you trust them. Your child’s self-love gets a quick boost at the same time. That’s what we call a win-win.
Useful Note: Call a job ‘special’ and its more likely to get done. Who wants the ‘special job’ of clearing the table? Here is a ‘special job’ of putting the bins out? Can you see where I’m going with this?


Learning new skills is empowering. Encourage exploration whatever it may be; new trips, new hobbies, new clubs, new foods. These all expand your child’s horizons and will build confidence in their ability to handle new situations.  They will also learn to recognize their strengths, accept their weaknesses, handle defeat, make new friends and learn teamwork.  Teaching the child new skills such as gardening, doing dishes, or using a computer will boost their self-confidence.


Everyone excels at something (we hope so anyway!), and it is just fantastic when your child discovers that something. As a parent, encourage your child’s interests even if they bore you to death. Psychologists have noticed a phenomenon they call the carry-over principle. This is when something boosts a child’s self-image, and this carries over into other areas of their life. If they really don’t seem to excel at anything then let them keep on trying new experiences until something clicks.


Now, a child with unbridled emotion is usually considered a brat yet at the same time no one wants a wallflower. Now it will help if you yourself are not emotionally repressed or boiling over with rage but for my sake, I will assume you are all balanced, intelligent adults in tune with your E.I. (that’s Emotional intelligence dear). You need to teach your child the fine balance between expressing and controlling feelings. They must be free to express themselves to you and close friends but also know they are not free to explode like an over-emotional emoji.


Give your kids a chance to choose occasionally. It will also teach them about responsibility and the risks that come with it. Now we’re not talking about asking them which car to buy but simple choices like which clothes they want to wear, which food to eat, which film to see. Believe it or not this will start giving them responsibilty for future life choices.

One little trick is to ask them ‘What time would you like to go to bed? 7.15 or 7.30pm – clearly they will choose the later time but there will be less arguing because they have been given a choice. Night night.

Like an arborist caring for a tree, in order to raise a confident child, your job is to nurture what’s there so that she grows strong and straight and avoid whittling away at the tender branches.

Dr Sears

Miss Manners x