Asking your kid this question could do wonders for their self-esteem – here’s why

“They’ll be able to start looking internally instead of externally for validation over time”

Asian mother and daughter at home together
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Good self-esteem is like a super power for kids, and as parents, it’s our job to make sure that they know how valuable and worthy they are. 

That said, it’s a tricky path to tread – we don’t want to destroy our kids’ confidence by pushing them too hard and instead, do our best to praise them for their achievements in a healthy, non-toxic way

Picture this: your child is so excited to show you what they drew during school pick-up or they come bursting through the door to tell you they scored a goal in their football match. Your knee-jerk reaction is to probably congratulate them and reward them in some way, but this could enforce the habit of solely relying on the external, such as grades or compliments, for validation. 

Wondering where to start? Licensed family and play therapist Carol Kim shared a simple technique to help parents to tune into their own worth. Kim’s young clients often engage in artwork activities, and is often asked whether she likes what they’ve produced. While recognising that it’s easy to say, ‘yes, I love it’ and ‘great job!’, if the goal is to have better self-esteem, Kim suggests asking them what they think of their drawing instead. Why? Doing so enables them to practice not getting the most of their self-esteem from other people’s opinions. 

How to boost your child's self-esteem


♬ original sound - Parenting.Resilience

In her latest TikTok, the parenting coach suggests the response: 'You really want to know what I think? Actually, I want to know what you think. How do you feel about it? What are your favourite parts about your drawing? Are there parts that you don’t like?'. 

'Wow, I can really see that you enjoy the colours that you used. By the way, you know what I noticed here? While you were talking about your drawing, you were smiling and looking proud, I wonder how it felt for you. Oh, so you did feel proud? Well, let’s look at your drawing again and notice the proud feeling in our body.'

Kim explains that this exercise encourages kids to explore and value their own thoughts, feelings and perspectives, while also helping them to appreciate their own strengths and abilities. It might take a bit of practice, and while external validation has its perks, this technique gives children the tools to trust in their own opinions, feel confident in their abilities and bounce back from setbacks.

For more parenting hacks, here are 5 ways to show kids you love them in a way they can process and struggling with school run meltdowns? A child psychologist has shared a tip for calmer goodbyes.

Daniella Gray
Family News & Wellbeing Writer

From building healthy family relationships to self-care tips for mums and parenting trends - Daniella also covers postnatal workouts and exercises for kids. After gaining a Print Journalism BA Hons degree and NCTJ Diploma in Journalism at Nottingham Trent University, Daniella started writing for Health & Wellbeing and co-hosted the Walk to Wellbeing podcast. She has also written for Stylist, Natural Health, The Sun UK and Fit & Well. In her free time, Daniella loves to travel, try out new fitness classes and cook for family and friends.