EAP Matters

Communication Skills to Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem


Encouragement is a skill parents can use to help children grow in self-esteem.   Encouragement focuses on the child’s behavior.  It acknowledges effort, progress and success.  It helps foster courage to persist, inspires belief in one’s ability and supports the child’s efforts.  Encouragement lets children know that they are believed in, accepted, worthwhile, and capable. 


The Three Fundamentals of Encouragement

Notice improvement:  Point out what the child did well in a situation.  Comment on how he or she may have done it better this time than the last time.  Examples:  “You improved your grade in Social Studies this quarter.” “You sure had some good hits this game”.  Focus on small efforts and improvements along the way to the goal. Remember that improvement takes time and multiple errors.

Show appreciation:  When you comment on your child’s strengths and positive qualities, she or he feels valued.  You can show appreciation by saying “I love your sense of humor”. When you are wanting your child to further develop a positive behavior or quality, for example, being responsible, then look closely for times they are responsible and express your appreciation for those behaviors.

Express faith:  When you say “you can do it”, you are giving your child the message that you believe in his or her ability to do something, to learn, or to grow.


Examples of Encouraging Words

A teen is learning a tricky step for a dance line.  You might say, “That looks smoother than it did last week”.

Your child shows you their project and you say “you really worked hard on that”.

Your child is jumping on the trampoline.  To encourage by noticing you might say “it’s nice to watch you jumping from the window in my office”.

Your child is talking happily about something he accomplished.  You could say “you seem pretty proud of that”.

“Thanks. That’s a big help.”

“I trust that you can figure this out.”

“You really worked hard on that.”

“You’re getting better at Algebra all the time.”

“Look how much you’ve learned already.  You’ll get the hang of it soon.”

“I think that was kind of you to help your friend when her feelings were hurt.”


Call Alegent Health EAP at (402)398-5566 or (888)847-4975 for more information or to meet with an EAP professional if you have concerns about your child’s self-esteem or want to improve your skills as a parent.