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5 Ways to Help Children Boost Their Self-Esteem and Confidence

This is a guest blog post by Leah Berdysz and if you’re an educator, therapist, school counselor, school social worker, related professional, or parent then this blog is for you! Today, we're diving into a topic that's close to all our hearts: nurturing the self-esteem and confidence of the young minds we care for. In this blog post, we'll explore five practical and effective ways to empower youth with the tools they need to thrive.

1.) Encourage Positive Self-Talk & Affirmations

One of the fundamental building blocks of self-esteem and confidence is the way we speak to ourselves. Encourage the young people you live or work with to become mindful of their inner dialogue. Assist them in reframing their self-talk to be both positive and affirming. One practical exercise is to help them start a daily affirmation journal. In it, they can jot down any negative thoughts and then challenge them with evidence of their accomplishments and strengths.

It can also be a place where you share affirmations and encouragement with them. You can do a daily check-in and write down one affirmation per day for them. This could be an area in which you’ve seen growth and are proud of them. To be most effective, the affirmations you share should align with their personal goals and values.

Learn more about Positive Daily Affirmations and the science behind them here.

Quick Tip: Create a Daily Affirmation Journal Together

2.) Foster a Growth Mindset

A growth mindset is the belief that your brain can grow, develop, and learn new things with effort. By fostering this mindset, we can assist in boosting young people's confidence and self-esteem. When you praise their effort rather than just the end result, you send the message that hard work and dedication are valuable, regardless of the final outcome. Encourage them to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth. Have them begin consciously adding the word “yet” into their daily vocabulary. For example, I don’t know how to ride my bike, tie my shoes, or complete long division problems “YET.”

Quick Tip: Praise Effort, Not Just Results

3.) Provide Opportunities for Mastery

Confidence often comes from a sense of competence and mastery. Create opportunities for youth to set and achieve goals, both big and small. Start with achievable tasks and gradually increase the complexity. As they experience success, their self-esteem will naturally rise.

Exposing them to a variety of activities can increase their opportunity for mastery, as well as help them learn more about their interests. You can expose them to a variety of areas such as sports, arts, music, nature, and more! Then, when they find areas they are interested in further learning and developing their skills, teach them the SMART Goal Framework as a way to learn how to set and achieve their goals.

Quick Tip: Teach them to Set Achievable Goals

Here’s an example of a SMART Goal from the upcoming Empowered & Poised Life Skills Curriculum:

By the end of the basketball season (which runs for three months), Sam will improve her free throw shooting skills to consistently make at least 3 out of 5 free throws during games, up from her current average of 1 out of 5.

Specific: The goal should be clear and specific.

  • Example: The goal specifies the skill (free throw shooting) and the desired improvement (from 1 out of 5 to 3 out of 5) within a defined time frame (the end of the basketball season).

Measurable: There should be a clear way to measure progress and know when the goal has been achieved.

  • Example: Progress can be measured by tracking the number of successful free throws made out of 5 attempts during games.

Achievable: The goal should be realistic and attainable.

  • Example: Improving from 1 out of 5 to 3 out of 5 successful free throws is a realistic and attainable goal for a third-grade basketball player with practice and coaching. A goal like 5 out of 5 free throws would not be as realistic or attainable.

Relevant: The goal should be relevant to the student.

  • Example: Improving free throw shooting is relevant to a student athlete's performance and can have a positive impact on the team's success.

Time-based: There should be a specific timeframe or deadline within which the goal should be met.

  • Example: The timeframe is clear: it spans the three-month duration of the basketball season, concluding at its end.

To learn more about SMART goals, check out this blog post by Casey.

4.) Promote Positive Relationships

Healthy relationships play a pivotal role in shaping a young person's self-esteem. In fact, the number one protective factor linked to resilience in youth is that of a sensitive, nurturing, and responsive adult. Encourage open communication and provide a safe space for them to express their thoughts and feelings. In my book, Conscious Empowerment I remind adults to “Make it a priority to cancel out the noise in your life and be fully present.” It can be difficult to do this in the chaos of everyday life, but it is essential in helping young people feel heard and valued. Thus, you have the power to play one of the most essential roles in the development of a young person’s self-esteem and confidence!

Quick Tip: Establish a Safe Space for Open Conversations

5.) Celebrate Uniqueness and Diversity

To boost self-esteem, it's vital to help youth appreciate their unique qualities while respecting the diversity of others. Incorporate diverse perspectives and experiences into your curriculum or discussions. Encourage them to celebrate their individuality and talents.

Michelle Obama stated, “A good education is about so much more than just learning geometry or memorizing dates in history. All of that is important, but an education is also about exploring new things - discovering what makes you come alive, and then being your best at whatever you choose.” The Empowered & Poised Life Skills Curriculum is specifically designed to be customizable to a diverse range of students, celebrate uniqueness and diversity, and empower students in such a way that helps them develop self-esteem and confidence.

Quick Tip: Embrace Diversity in Your Curriculum


By implementing these five practical strategies, we can make a significant impact on their self-perception and overall well-being. Remember, it's not just about what we teach but how we teach it—with empathy, understanding, and a genuine desire to see our youth thrive. By implementing these principles, we can help young individuals develop the tools they need to navigate life's challenges with confidence and resilience.

More Self-Esteem Books and Resources

If you're looking for more self-esteem picture books and tips for helping children build confidence, be sure to check out this blog post.

About Leah Berdysz

Leah Berdysz, MSSA, LSW is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker, licensed social worker, and advocate for empowering children, youth, and adolescents. Check out her personal website at and learn more about her organization Empowered & Poised. Be sure to watch her TedX Talk on “How to Empower Youth”and read her book Conscious Empowerment: A Guide to Helping Girls Build Self-Esteem & Confidence. Read the article from Your Teen Magazine she wrote: How to Build Self-Esteem In Girls: 5 Ways to Help Them Love Themselves. And coming soon Leah has a must-have resource for working with your students: SEL & Life Skills Curriculum. This downloadable, gender-inclusive curriculum is user-friendly, comprehensive, backed by evidence, vetted and tested, flexible, and engaging. All topics and activities are culturally responsive and align with American School Counselor Association Standards, CASEL, Ohio's Social Emotional Learning Standards, and the Whole Child Framework.



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