Love, Always

School’s out! Parents: 10 ways to help your child build more self-esteem this summer.

Beach days. Picnics. Concerts. Popsicles! There’s so much to savor + do during these precious summer months. Why not add “build self-esteem” to the list?

Here are 10 simple ways to do it:

1.   Let your child pick a fun family activity for the weekend. Depending on their age, you may need to give them a few choices. Praise them for making a great choice.

2.   Encourage your child to try a new activity (like a new sport, music lessons or dance). Tell your child, “Whatever you choose to do, I know that you’ll give it your all and do your very best.”

3.   Take advantage of long walks outside (or drives to the beach) to hold conversations about self-esteem. Remind your child, “Being good at dance or winning a soccer game is great, but I will always love you, no matter what. You will always be loved, just for being you.”

4.   Learn something new together — like the name of a particular plant that you spotted on a walk, or the history of your hometown. Say to your child, “It’s wonderful to be curious! You’re so smart. You learn new things so quickly.”

5.   Give up one of your favorite items for a day (like your cell phone or coffee). Have your child do the same (with an iPad or stuffed animal). Explain that our favorite items can be useful and fun, but that it’s important to remember that you can still be happy, without them.

6.   Give your child a new chore or responsibility at home. Pick one that you think they’ll excel at. When they’re done, praise them for an excellent job.

7.   If your child says self-critical things (like “I’m stupid” or “I suck at that game”), instead of trying to fix it (“No, you’re not”), ask: “Why do you feel that way?” Let your child explain, and you’ll be better able to help.

8.   Have your child create a gift or write a card for a sick or underprivileged child, or an elderly neighbor or relative. Remind them: “Doing things to help other people feels good.”

9.   Start an “I Believe In Me” journal — and get a journal for your child, as well. Every night, write down a few positive things that you did that day, and encourage your child to do the same. Once a week, you can read through the “highlights of the week,” together!

10.   Laugh with your kids. Make your home a happy, safe and encouraging place … where “being you” is a good thing to be!


Love, always.

PS. What was your favorite summer activity as a child? Is that a tradition that you’d like to continue, with your kids?

PPS. Did you enjoy these tips on self-esteem?

There’s more where that came from! Check out The Life Guides: short, uplifting workbooks to help you navigate life’s many challenges + transitions, with grace.

Read the comments or add yours.
  1. I grew up spending summers in northern Michigan at the beach on Lake Superior. Although my children were raised where beaches were readily accessible, with the busyness of “life,” getting to the beach wasn’t part of our routine. However, I did make an extra effort to add “beach time” into our summers — probably because of my own childhood memories. [Funny, I didn’t make that connection until just now! Thanks.]

    • Hi Gertrude: Sounds like your kids had some really fun summer times. That’s terrific.

      I encourage all parents to make an extra effort to create special memories with their children during the summer. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life, especially for working parents.

      Then, before you know it, the kids are all grown-up and doing their own “thing” over the summer.

  2. I remember summer being a time of just relaxing, playing with neighbor kids, picnics, etc. These days it seems like kids have summer school, sports activities, etc. — much more structured time.

    I’m content with how I grew up, yet it’s also OK that my children had different experiences. No matter how you look at it summer IS a fun time. As a child and as a parent, I’m always sorry to see summer end.

    • Hi Lorna: Consider thinking of summer not necessarily as ending, but rather, the fun is just transitioning to another form. In other words, we can have fun year-round, in different ways. Enjoy!

  3. Thanks for the helpful self-esteem builders. I don’t know that I can give up coffee for a day (No. 5.) but I’m going to try. That would be a valuable lesson to teach my son.

    • Hi Judy: Yes that would be an inconvenience, but a small price to pay don’t you think, for what your son will gain — the knowledge that happiness is essentially an “inside job.”

  4. My daughter puts herself down a lot. I never realized until I read your point #7, that I was not finding out why she feels this way. As a parent we just want to fix things right away. Tonight I’m going to chat with her about the “whys.” Thank you SO much.

    • Hi Erica: I’m sure your chat will be quite insightful. It’s also helpful to be aware of the kind of role-modeling that your daughter is being exposed to. Parents who have been in similar situations to the one you describe, have asked themselves questions such as:

      “Do I put myself down? Does my child hear me being self-critical?”

      If yes, an important next step is to being to change that behavior. :)

  5. I really like you idea for the “I Believe In Me” journal that you suggest in number 9. I’ve never thought of me and my kids keeping the same journal. Sounds like it could be very helpful. I’m going to try it this week.

    • Hi Josh: Awesome. It’s amazing how an exercise like that can open up the lines of communication and reveal all kinds of treasures. Enjoy!

  6. I really like #5, giving up a favorite item for the day and realizing you can be happy without it. What a great idea! I think all parents and adults need to do that one too!

    • Hi Linda: My thoughts exactly. Initially, it may seem tough to go without that ‘something’, but it’s amazing what other little miracles tend to show up, when we make room for them in this way. :)

  7. One of my favorite childhood memories was going out to the garden, picking a tomato off the vine and eating it right there. They were always delicious and slightly warm from sitting in the sun.

    Then there was picking cherries for Mom: one for the basket and one for me…. one for the basket and two for me…. one for the basket and three for me. They were tart and Mom’s cherry pies were the best…. mmmmmm cherry pie!

    Later in the summer, I’d pick green apples, fresh off the tree….since they weren’t ripe, they tasted like Granny Smith – the apples; not the old lady.

    Yep, I miss those scrumptious, summer days: going in the backyard and feasting on the bounty of delectable foods. I guess that I could relive those tasty-times, but I think the current owner might get upset.

    • Hi Ron: Thanks for sharing your happy memories. They sound like terrific self-esteem builders (feeling good about yourself + what you’re doing. :)

      I can picture your summers in my mind … + almost taste those yummy fruits!

      I hope many parents are creating similar wonderful memories with their children, this summer.

      PS. On July 11 (that’s tomorrow!) I’ll be chatting about healthy summer activities on WakeUp 2day Television around 7:15am. Specifically, I’ll be sharing simple tips for parents to help their child build self-esteem. Also on livestream.