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Development of Self Esteem in Toddlers

by Becky Swain , studioD

Loving parents envision the accomplishments that may color their toddler’s future with eager anticipation. Parents can open the doors that lead to those accomplishments by helping their toddler build strong self-esteem. Self-esteem inoculates children against the frustrations that accompany problems, and benefits children at every stage of development. According to pediatrician Dr. William Sears, the development of your toddler’s self-esteem contributes to the development of a self-confident adult. Your loving, positive interaction with your toddler can build and nurture her self-esteem.

Nurture Problem-Solving Skills

Although it can be tough for you to remain in the background when your toddler struggles with a new task, resist the urge to rush to her rescue. Toddlers encounter frustration in their quest for independence, but each dilemma represents an opportunity to learn problem-solving skills. You can transform your toddler’s problem scenarios into celebrations when you gently guide her efforts toward a solution, without performing the task yourself. Transfer emphasis from the original goal of solving the problem to the problem-solving process, by rewarding your toddler’s perseverance with kisses and praise. Your toddler’s self-esteem will grow and glow with each positive problem-solving experience.

Engage in Child-Directed Playtime

Communicate that your toddler is special and build self-esteem through playtime. Time devoted to playtime helps to validate that your toddler is important, and deserving of your time and attention. Demonstrate that you value your toddler’s ideas by following her lead in play themes and activities. Pretend play provides your toddler with opportunities for role-playing, exploring feelings and executing cause and effect in a safe environment.

Monitor Your Self-Esteem

Let the window to your self-esteem reveal self-assurance associated with positive coping skills. Your toddler’s actions and words reflect the cues she learns from you, so take some time to evaluate the health of your self-esteem. KidsHealth suggests that parents rehabilitate their unhealthy self-esteem, remembering that toddlers watch, listen and imitate their parents’ self-confident and self-deprecating behavior. Consider large obstacles or daily hassles as new opportunities to demonstrate confident resolve and optimism that you will be successful. Exhibit tolerance for your blunders by talking about the importance of laughing at and learning from your own mistakes.

Assign Age-Appropriate Chores

Parents are adored role models, so toddlers seek to help with daily chores as they observe and imitate their parents. Build your toddler’s self-esteem and channel her desire to help by delegating chores considered appropriate for your toddler’s developmental level. Toddlers experience pride and delight when expected to play a role in completing household chores. Examples of chores for 2-year old toddlers include bringing the dirty laundry from her room and putting away her toys. Emphasize the value of helping rather than evaluating the quality of your toddler’s effort. Praising your toddler’s imperfect efforts teaches her that you value her willingness to help.

About the Author

Becky Swain's first publication appeared in the "Journal of Personality Assessment" in 1984. Her articles have also appeared on various websites. She is an adjunct college instructor, licensed school psychologist and educational consultant. She holds a Master of Science in clinical psychology and a Doctor of Philosophy in educational psychology, both from Mississippi State University.

Photo Credits

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