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How To Boost Kids’ Self-Esteem

A healthy sense of self-esteem is important for kids and adults alike. According to research conducted by psychologists at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Bern, “people with high self-esteem generally have more success at school and work, better social relationships, improved mental and physical health, and less anti-social behavior. And, these benefits persist from adolescence to adulthood and into old age.”

Particularly in the modern age, however, cultivating and maintaining self-esteem isn’t always as easy as it should be. For kids, a combination of ever-increasing pressure to perform well in school, exposure to social media (which promotes unrealistic physical standards and encourages kids to compare themselves to others), and other factors can actively undermine their sense of self-confidence and self-esteem. 

Ways To Improve Self-Esteem for Kids

To help combat these factors, parents can work to instill healthy levels of self-esteem in children at a young age. Self-esteem has been linked to resilience and good mental health, and helping children develop a good foundation in their early years may make it easier for them to weather the challenges of their adolescent and teen years. Here, we’ve laid out some guidance and ideas for helping your kids build self-esteem that will (hopefully) last them for years to come. 

  • Model self-esteem. Kids pick up on much, much more than most people give them credit for. If your kids notice that you don’t stand up for yourself, or that you’re unkind to yourself when you make mistakes (“I’m so stupid for forgetting paper towels at the store!”), they may eventually adopt those behaviors themselves. Make a point of treating yourself the way you want your kids to treat themselves.
  • Encourage new skills and interests. Finding their own passions and hobbies is an important part of developing a sense of identity. What’s more, learning new things gives kids a chance to be creative, set goals, and solve problems, all of which are important for building confidence.
  • Frame failure as growth. It may sound counterintuitive, but good self-esteem building activities for kids are activities where they can make mistakes and fail. Failure is a natural part of life, and learning how to deal with failure, integrate feedback, and try again is one of the most essential life skills that kids can have. In particular, make sure that kids understand that failure isn’t something they should take personally. Failure happens to everyone at some point, and it doesn’t mean anything about their talents, abilities, or intelligence.
  • Celebrate effort. When we praise kids, we often tend to focus on the outcome (“You got an A!”) over the process (“You studied really hard for that test.”) While praising the achievement isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s equally important to acknowledge the work and perseverance that went into that achievement. Paying too much attention to the result, rather than the process, can lead kids to think that the achievement is the only thing that matters.
  • Give them independence. While it’s tempting to want to protect your child from difficulty, it’s important to let them deal with their own problems from time to time (provided, of course, that those problems are age-appropriate). Allowing kids to have some degree of autonomy helps them develop a sense of self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

How To Help Kids Build Confidence Through Biking

If you’re looking for a fun, constructive activity that will help your child build self-esteem, look no further than biking. Learning to bike is a process that requires work, perseverance, and focus. What’s more, your child will almost certainly fail (probably a few times!) while learning to ride a bike, and the process of getting back up and trying again is an excellent way to build resilience and faith in their abilities. 

Even when they’ve mastered their bike, bicycles offer continued opportunities to continue building self-esteem. The base skill of learning to ride a bike lends itself to a host of other related activities (like bike polo, long-distance cycling, and trail riding, to name just a few), all of which allow your child to continue learning new things. Furthermore, being able to commute and explore by bike gives kids a chance to exercise their independence. 

All Kids Bike is a national movement dedicated to bringing the mental and physical benefits of bike riding to every kid in America. Led by the Strider Education Foundation, our mission is to make bicycling skills an integral part of kids’ elementary school education. Our Kindergarten PE Program provides the curriculum, bikes, and safety equipment needed to teach every kindergartner how to ride at no cost to the school itself.
All Kids Bike and the Strider Education Foundation depend on generous contributions from the community to do the important work that we do. Consider donating to a school in your area to support our vision of making this milestone skill accessible to children across the country. Contact us to learn more!