Building a Child’s Confidence and Self- esteem at Home

A lot of children have had their confidence and self-esteem battered, others are currently going through this challenge while many more children will still have to go through same if this issue of the child’s confidence and self-esteem is not paid attention to.






The questions that come to my mind as I write this piece are,

  • “Why do our children have to suffer a great deal from the issues of confidence and low self-esteem?
  • Who is to be blamed for this?
  • How can this issue be remedied?

To answer these questions, I would want us to take a cursory look at these key words: child, confidence, self-esteem, building and home. Next, I will discuss the causes and consequences of lowself-esteem and finally look at how to build a child’s confidence and self-esteem at home.

The child as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child is “A human being below the age of 18 years unless the laws of the country sets the age for adulthood younger.”

Confidence as defined by Merriam Webster is “A feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something.”

Self-esteem as also defined by Merriam Webster is “A feeling of satisfaction that someone has in himself or herself and his own abilities.” It is also a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value, i.e. the way you feel about yourself.

Building could be defined as the process of making a structure; and finally the word home which is a very key concept in this piece is said to be a place where a family resides.

I was teaching a class of 3rd graders and in the course of my teaching; I requested they tell me what they think a home is and what the definition of the home should be. I grouped the pupils and allowed them discuss. At the end of the discussion, I listened to what each group had to say. Well, all the definitions they gave were the same old definition we all know, a place where a family resides. I almost concluded my class when one of my pupils raised his hands to speak which I granted. He began to speak and according to him, a place where a family resides is a house. What turns the house into a home is the love that binds the family together, the respect given to each member of the family, the care and concern parents show towards their children and vice-versa, the togetherness, the kind manner in which they treat themselves and issues in the home and he went on and on. I was shocked to hear this from a third grader who was just 8 years old. His understanding of the concept to me was just amazing.

The home plays a major role in forming and building the personality of the child. It also helps in the formation of who the child eventually turns out to be in the society.

According to Dr. Maria Montessori, The child is a spiritual embryo at birth (incomplete). He begins the process of incarnation by unfolding his pre-determined psychic patterns as he interacts with the environment. To incarnate, the child needs two aids: the internal and external aids. The internal aids are the aids the child is born with. They are further broken down into the absorbent mind and sensitive periods. The external aids are those the adult provides for the child. We have two of these:conducive environment and freedom. The child is first born into a home where he first begins to absorb his first impressions like a dry foam sponge absorbs water. This makes the home his first environment. For the child to incarnate, the home must be made a conducive environment. This then means that not just the paintings, furniture and decorations, the people in the home are also to strive to compliment all these to make the environment which is the home indeed a conducive one.

One would then ask, “Are our homes really conducive environments for our children? Have they really helped to build the confidence and self-esteem of our children? It is surprising and thought provoking to know that most children even though from very good homes as seen and perceived by the society still suffer from issues of confidence and self-esteem.

A lot of work has been done on the different types of self-esteem but I would limit this discussion to the low self-esteem.  Children with low confidence and self-esteem often exhibit the following traits:

  • They do not believe in themselves and therefore do not make any effort towards achieving goals.
  • They prefer to remain unnoticed.
  • They always seek the support of others because they cannot stand on their own.
  • They are always afraid of making mistakes.
  • They do not have the guts to face anyone even when they know they are right and the other person is wrong.
  • They are very sensitive and can easily be influenced by peers.
  • They underestimate themselves and believe that they can’t achieve whatever their hearts sets to achieve.

Who then is responsible for the low confidence and self-esteem of the child? I strongly believe that the home to a large extent is responsible because that is the first environment the child finds himself in and is also where the child spends a major part of his life. Many parents and guardians have unknowingly caused and contributed to the issue of low confidence and self-esteem of their children. How is this possible, you may ask?


I grew up with a disciplinarian as a dad who wouldn’t condone any form of misconduct from us as children. He would often threaten to embarrass us the day he gets any report from school about any misconduct. We thought it was just to scare us not until the day he came for our open day. My teacher told him of how unserious I was in school and how my performance was nothing to write home about. I was then in grade three.

My dad stood me up in front of the whole class and rebuked me. That was just too much for me to bear. It broke me and made me feel so inferior before my class mates.  I felt like a nobody. Some other parents had visited that day but none did what my dad did. I now preferred to go unnoticed and did not even make any effort to try because I felt I couldn’t.

This is just one of the many scenarios of parents feeling the best way to correct a child is by doing it in the public. This rather does more harm than good.


Some parents are in the habit of making undue comparisons. You often hear them say,” Chike is in the same class as you are and is doing so well, does he have five heads?” Consciously or unconsciously, the little child begins to see the said Chike as a super hero. According to Dr. Maria Montessori, every child is a unique individual and should not be compared with another.



In addition, some parents make unhealthy remarks like, “You don’t look like me! I don’t know where you came from! You never inherited any of my good traits!” The little child goes about feeling he sure must have been a mistake as he has no good quality, not even one to be commended by his parents. The child begins to feel that if all these can be said by his parents, what then will others think of him? The child loses his confidence alongside his self-esteem.


Over pampering could also lead to loss of confidence and low self-esteem issues. How, you may ask? When children are over pampered, especially from the ages of 2 ½, they become so attached to the individual who pampers them. Attachment in itself according to Dr. Maria Montessori is a deviation i.e. a stray off the path of normal development. She identified it as a psychic deviation which needs to be paid attention to. The consequence of this is that the child’s personality is substituted with that of the person who pampers him. The child becomes solely dependent on the individual. When a child is unable to do the things he should do for himself at his age, he begins to have inferiority complex which also leads to him having low confidence and self-esteem issues.


Some parents are in the habit of making choices and setting unrealistic goals for their wards even when they are fully aware of the capabilities of such wards. The child losses his confidence and self-esteem first because that was not his choice and then because he tries but does not achieve the said goal.


There is also the issue of uninvolved and negligent parents. They are never available for their wards. They just hand them over to the maids and caregivers. Their children go to school looking so un-kept, without good food and proper clothing, lots of undone assignments, unchecked bags etc. The list goes on and on. The child sits in class only to discover he is the only assignment defaulter, the one who looks un-kept and one whose parents don’t show up for school functions. He begins to tell lies to cover for his parents. That alone depicts the child has lost his confidence and self-esteem.


There is also the case of parents showering insincere praises for things that really do not deserve them. The child goes out of the confines of the house and expects others to do same. When this is not the case, the child feels bad and becomes withdrawn. He begins to suffer from low self- esteem and confidence issues.


  • The child becomes socially withdrawn.
  • Some of them begin to have eating disorders as they now find solace in food.
  • They become very unfair to themselves and begin to pick up certain undesirable habits.
  • They now begin to doubt praises even when they are sincere
  • Some of them even go to extremes of suicide.



We must begin by paying more attention to our homes. Since the home plays a major role in building the child’s confidence and self-esteem, the home must stop being a house and start becoming a home in every sense of it .The parents and adults involved must begin to make the home a conducive environment for the child. By doing so, the home will work in harmony with the other internal and external aids to ensure that the child unfolds his pre-determined psychic patterns as he interacts with the environment.

Furthermore, parents and guardians must learn to implore the right means in their bid to correct their wards. It is not enough to have good intentions alone but also a good means to help in the achievement of such good intentions.

It is also important that parents should understand that every child is unique in his own way. There is really no need for undue comparisons and unhealthy remarks. Parents are to discover their wards’ strength and encourage them in those aspects.

There is also the need to allow children make their choices i.e. allowing them  choose from a variety of options as children tend to do better in the areas of their choice and it is also only in an atmosphere of freedom that the child can truly reveal himself. It is also important that we let our children know that making a mistake is not a crime but rather an opportunity to learn something new.

In addition, parents who over pamper their children should desist from it as they would only be causing more harm than good. Rather, they should lead their wards towards independence by introducing age appropriate chores. In doing this they would be leading them towards independence and their joy would be that the children function as though they i.e. the parents do not exist.

Parents should also learn to show more care and concern towards their wards. They should make out time to work and be with their wards and also desist from showering insincere praises on them as there is no need for this. The child’s true joy and happiness comes from within. The best reward a child can have is that innermost satisfaction that stems from completing a given task.

In conclusion, if all these are put into consideration, our children would be happier and we as parents would indeed be able to build the child’s confidence and self-esteem at home.

For more tips on building a child’s confidence and self-esteem at home, Click here to enroll for our Montessori Diploma Programmes.

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4th of June, 2018

Adewale C. Bethia.

Stationed Trainer (Abuja)

IMTTI, India-Nigeria.