what influences self-esteem

Understand what influences your child’s self-esteem

Knowing what influences self-esteem allows you to nurture it

From The Happy Child set of talks and materials


Caring for children within our incredibly busy, ever-changing lives, is rarely easy at the best of times.  Our own exhaustion and stress can add to the invisible pressures placed on our families, especially if we try to live up to some social media representation of perfection.  But when we can understand the influences on our children’s self-esteem, we are far better placed to nurture it.

Technology that once promised a helpful support can become a destructive influence

This is especially true when trying to raise happy, balanced and resilient children.  Particularly if they are living in a world where everything is wanted and expected NOW.  With value placed on what we deem to be worthy of our time and attention, decided on with a swipe on the screen.

When we judge something, whether we realise it or not, we assign a value to it.  And we do this according to a given criteria.  But what makes something worthy of our time and attention?  What are we rating its goodness against?  And when it comes to judging the value of a person, where can you possibly start? 

What gives someone value? 

We all look to find positive human connections.  It is how we reassure ourselves that we are loved and that we belong.  This basic human need is so powerful, that children will do almost anything to get it, which is why peer pressure is so powerful.  But growing up is hard at the best of times.  And with the constant exposure many children have to social media, their difficult times are viewed through a lens of “post-ready-perfection”.  

Your child is picking up on every influence around them – especially from you, their most trusted influencer – so you need to be careful of the messages you are sending.  How do you rate the things you value?  Is it based on skill within a given activity?  Or the number of likes on a given post?  Is it a current favoured physical appearance or ownership of a must-have item?

The trouble with assigning value through any of these criteria is that they are fluctuating

Criteria that depend on fads or fashions have no real basis on the important qualities we may want for our children as they grow into capable, well-rounded adults.  And it is this rocking basis that cause so many teenagers, and increasingly our young children too, to find their self-esteem at dangerously low levels.

And the truth is – our children are struggling

While self-confidence is built through experience; the more your child can practice something, the more confident they can become.  What influences self-esteem is more subjective. It is more about who your child believes themselves to be.  And for this to be at hight levels, your child needs to feel unique, loved and valuable, just for being them.  A difficult concept to believe in if they see and hear you judging others harshly.  And if they themselves begin tying their own self-worth to narrow, unrealistic or fluctuating ideals, their self-esteem will suffer.

Studies consistently show all kinds of benefits when self-esteem is boosted, improving children’s sense of satisfaction and happiness, to improvements in mental health, schoolwork and physical health.  So, look to develop your child’s inner, psychological strength – more than any reliance on today’s fad.  Help them to understand the world on their terms, as they become aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and the power they have to control their outcomes.  And help your child to avoid the depression and low self-esteem that so many of our teenagers are facing.


Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods.  Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child.   www.nurturingchildhoods.co.uk

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