Categorized | Parenting, Toddler Behaviour

Building Self-esteem In Toddlers

Self-esteem is important especially to toddlers since it can make or break their development. It is not something that can be learned overtime but rather an outcome of repeated achievements. Here are a few simple strategies in building self-esteem in toddlers.

Be An Example

Be your toddler’s role model and set a positive example. Children, by nature, love emulating their parents. So if you are too critical of yourself, pessimistic and unsure of your talents and skills, your toddler might eventually mirror you. Foster your own self-esteem and he will have a great model.

Give Unconditional Love

Toddlers are smart and conscious of their surroundings so make an effort to express how much you love your toddler at all times. Shower him with hugs and kisses. Always tell him how much you love him. If he makes a mistake, make it clear that it is his behaviour and not him that is unacceptable. Instead of telling him he is a bad boy, explain to him why that certain action is offensive and how it hurts other people.

Provide Positive Reinforcement

Encouragement is the best way to promote self-esteem. Praise your little one for a job well done. Even if it is as trivial as fixing his own bed, give your toddler a sincere praise like “You did a great job making your own bed. You made me happy.”. When you see him trying or making an effort after he failed at something, tell him you are proud of him and that he can do it. Little things like this increase your toddler’s sense of worth.

Be honest and do it often but do not overdo it. It may inflate his ego and make him feel superior than everyone else which can lead to bigger problems.

Teach Your Toddler How To Handle Criticism

Criticism can break confidence. Help your toddler understand that criticism is a part of life and that while it can help him become a better individual, it should never damage his own concept of himself. Help your toddler put things in perspective. For instance, if he failed in a math quiz, do not punish him and say “You are really slow in Math. You are a bad student.” His ego has already been bruised and he is ashamed, adding his suffering will only make him feel bad. Give a constructive response like “You are a good student. You have high grades in other subjects. You just need to spend more time practicing your Math lessons. We will work on it together.”

Be Consistent

Consistency is important to toddlers. When you make rules, make sure you stand by them. If you tell him to put his dirty clothes in the hamper, do not say it is okay to pile them on the floor. You should never give in to your toddler’s whims especially if he is having a tantrum. This will only make him think that if he cry or yell, he will get what he want.


If your toddler needs to talk or show you something, stop whatever you are doing and listen. Giving him your undivided attention shows you care and that you value what he has to say. By doing this, you help him validate his emotions which will make expressing easier for him.


Feed your toddler’s curiosity. For it is only with direct exposure he can learn, experience and gain confidence. Allow your toddler to try various sports, hobbies and activities he enjoys. If he is interested in soccer and singing, enroll him in a soccer and voice class. Accomplishment builds self-confidence, and self-confidence builds self-esteem.

Make Room For Mistakes

Mistakes are valuable life lessons. So if your toddler stains his shirt because he was playing in the dining table, gently ask what he might differently do next time. Likewise, if you commit a mistake, laugh and admit it. Once your toddler sees you acknowledge and recover from the error, it will be easier for him to accept his own shortcomings.

Children need to establish self-esteem from the very beginning. Thus, it is very important for parents to be patient and show their full support so children can mature into bright, happy individuals with a can-do attitude.

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