The Protective Power of Self-Esteem in Children

Marie Kessaris, MA, Individual and Family Counselor

Being a parent is stressful; we often wonder if we are doing everything possible to ensure our child is safe, happy, and healthy. However, there is evidence that self-esteem - or the evaluation of one's worth, value, importance, skills, and abilities - can affect children in all aspects of their lives, providing a "buffer” for hardships or obstacles they may experience.

High self-esteem has the effect of making a child more curious, interested in challenges and learning, optimistic about their potential and the future, able to forge and maintain healthier social relationships, more resilient, emotionally stable and able to self-regulate undesirable emotions, and almost negating or "annihilating" (Zambon et al., 2007) any socio-economic deficits a family is experiencing.

So how can we contribute to a healthy and stable self-esteem in our child? According to studies, parents have more influence on the self-esteem of girls than with boys, partly due to the fact that different factors influence self-esteem for boys and girls; where girls were more affected by perceived parental support and participation, boys were more affected by their sense of control and autonomy. However, the major overarching factor which facilitates healthy perceptions of self in all children is an authoritative parenting style. An authoritative parenting style is consistently warm, supportive, clear about boundaries and rules, and fair but also forgiving. A parent who is patient, establishes open lines of communication, and - funny enough - has a sense of humour, tends to encourage the formation of healthy self-esteem in their children.



Águeda, P., Mª del Carmen, R., & Alfredo, O. (2010). Adolescents own perceptions of self-evaluation: Self esteem, self efficacy, and life satisfaction. Psychology, Society & Education, 2(1), 55-69.

Celen, H. N., & Kuşdil, M. E. (2009). Paidéia (Ribeirão Preto), 19(42). Retrieved on October 30, 2015 from

Felson, R. B. & Zielinski, M. A. (1989). Children’s self-esteem and parental support. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 51(3), 727-735.

Gecas, V. & Schwalbe, M. L. (1986). Parental behaviour and adolescent self-esteem. Journal of Marriage and Family, 48(1), 37-46. doi: 10.2307/352226

Hosogi, M., Okada, A., Fujii, C., Noguchi, K., & Watanabe, K. (2012). Importance and usefulness of evaluating self-esteem in children. Biopsychosocial Medicine, 6(9). doi:10.1186/1751-0759-6-9

Hosogi, M., Okada, A., Yamanaka, E., Ootyou, K., Tsukamoto, C., & Morishima, T. (2007). Self-esteem in children with psychosomatic symptoms: Examination of low self-esteem and prognosis. Acta Medica Okayama, 61(5), 271-281.

Nazir, S., Saeed, S., Sohail, M. M., Sher, F., Azhar, Z., & Safdar, M. R. (2012). Parental conflict and its effects on youth self esteem (a study at university of punjab). International Journal of Asian Social Science, 2(9). 1392-1400.

Raimundi, M. J. & Molina, M. F. (2011). Study on global self-esteem predictors in elementary school children. Differences according to sex and age. Revista Argentina de Ciencias del Comportamiento, 3(3), 1-7.

Todorović J. A. (2004). Parental styles and the stability of self-esteem in adolescence. Psihologija, 37(2), 183-193. doi: 10.2298/PSI0402183T

Waschull, S. B., & Kernis, M. H. (1996). Level and stability of self-esteem as predictors of children’s intrinsic motivation and reasons for anger. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22(1), 4-13. doi: 10.1177/0146167296221001

Zambon, A., Lemma, P., Dalmasso, P., Borraccino, A., & Cavallo, F. (2007). Socio-economic position and adolescents’ health in italy: The role of self-esteem and self-efficacy. Italian Journal of Public Health, 4(3), 220-226. doi:

Robinson, J. P., Shaver, P. R., & Wrightsman, L. S. (Eds.) (1991). Measures of personality and social psychological attitudes: Volume 1 in measures of social psychological attitudes series. San Diego, CA, United States: Academic Press, Inc.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published