Help boost your child’s self-esteem, confidence into the new school year

February 5, 2024 BY

Triple P's Carol Markie-Dadds said research had shown children and teens with healthy self-esteem were likely to experience a range of lifelong benefits. Photo: SUPPLIED

As children across Australia return to school this week, experts at the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program are highlighting the important role self-esteem and confidence play in a child’s academic, social, and emotional success, and how it may be one of the most protective factors against anxiety and depression.

Triple P international country director, Carol Markie-Dadds said with two in five families in Australia experiencing school refusal, and many more facing cost-of-living pressures, the start of a new school year added an extra layer of parental stress and worry.

“Children and young people may have mixed emotions in the lead up to school, from excitement to dread – this is normal. They may be worried about fitting in or coping with workloads, or they might have friendship concerns, are worried about starting a new year level or going to a new school.

“A practical way parents and carers can help their children positively transition into a new school year and help them face any challenges that come their way is to focus on boosting their self-esteem, confidence, and coping skills.

“Research shows children and teens who have healthy self-esteem are likely to experience a range of lifelong benefits. This includes being more eager to learn, having more success at school, being more cooperative, having stronger social skills, and most importantly, improved mental and physical health.

She said children were not born with a sense of confidence and not all children developed it at the same rate or age, or with the same level of success.

“The great news is that parents and carers can help children by modelling and teaching these skills and giving their child opportunities to practise them at home, school and in the community.”

Triple P’s top tips for building children’s self-esteem and confidence:

Praise your child’s efforts, not just their results or achievements – talk about the things your child does well and let them know you’re proud of them for trying and making progress

Be a positive role model – children learn a lot by watching how you handle setbacks. Talk with them about how a problem can be worked out one step at a time

Guide them to solve their own problems, rather than trying to solve everything for them – simply pausing and giving them a few moments to figure something out can help, or ask questions such as “What have you tried so far?”

Show confidence in your child’s abilities by letting them do things for themselves – this helps them learn what they can do, and that they have some control over their world

Let your child know that it’s okay to fail or make mistakes – try talking to your child in a positive, optimistic way about the year ahead, and

Encourage your child to name their emotions, express their ideas, and make their own decisions – give your child a sense of agency around the things they enjoy doing, rather than pushing them to do an activity you want, such as playing a particular sport or musical instrument.

Delivery of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program to parents and carers of children in Australia is supported by funding from the federal government’s Department of Health and Aged Care.

For free, online parenting support 24/7, head to triplep-parenting.net.au