Children’s Self-Esteem and Parental Influence (Part One of Three)

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on April 15, 2011 3:16 pm

Developing children’s self-esteem begins with the life of the parents.  What is self-esteem? Self-esteem is the ability to be assured of one’s own abilities, talents, worth, value, as well as, having personal acceptance, approval and respect for oneself.

Parents’ insecurities are frequently injected into the life of their children; therefore, becoming the children’s own set of insecurities. Parents’ vulnerabilities commonly become those of their children.   Parents’ strengths and optimism can be an asset for their children. Ultimately, children are a mirrored reflection of the life lived by their parents.  If parents’ have a particular set of perceived vulnerabilities, limitations, negative self-talk, weaknesses, or negative habitual acts, then the propensity that their children will develop such negative behaviors are increased.  Likewise, if parents have developed positive habits, self-talk, and perceivable strengths; their children are placed in an advantageous position to develop a positive self-esteem.


It begins with the parents, and those who are in direct daily contact with the children (i.e. teachers, coaches). If parents declare their love for their children, but look at themselves with disdain, then the children will eventually begin to adapt the negative self-talk of the parents.  Parents are the gatekeepers of the negative and positive self-talk. After all, children are not born with negative or positive self-talk, it is formed through their primitive developmental years and is commonly a reflection of their interaction with their parents. Parents will only exemplify what they personally know to be true in their own life.  For if parents reject their own goodness, then their children are surely going to develop a similar set of attitudes about themselves.


Parental modeling is as important as any words that can be spoken. Therefore, it begins with positive modeling behaviors and positive self-talk. “Modeling this new way of thinking is a very effective way of encouraging your child to use it.” (Manassis, 1996, p. 47) Again, children adapt the behaviors, attitudes, percepts, and self-talk that we instill in them. “Many experienced parents have noted, children won’t always do as you say but usually do as you do.” (Manassis, 1996, p. 47)

Parents who have developed a belief system that equate the worth of their person to their behaviors, have a skewed view of themselves. “Affirming your worth is no easy task. Right now you believe that your worth depends on your behavior.” (McKay and Fanning, 2000, p. 37) Who we are, the worth of our being, has nothing to do with the behaviors, attitudes, or percepts that create our image. After all, our behaviors, attitudes, and percepts most commonly reflect how we see ourselves. Whereas, our worth should rely upon the unconditional understanding that whatever we do, and who we are, as people; we are worthy of unconditional acceptance, approval, and love.


Canadian Mental Health Association (2011) Children and self-esteem. Retrieved April 9, 2011,

Manassis, K. (1996) Keys to parenting your anxious child. Hauppague, New York:  Barron’s Educational Series, Inc.

McKay, M., Fanning, P. (2000) Self-Esteem third edition, A proven program of cognitive techniques for assessing, improving and maintaining your self-esteem. Oakland, California:  New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

54 comments on “Children’s Self-Esteem and Parental Influence (Part One of Three)”

  1. Anees Shah says:

    A child’s self-esteem or self-confidence is something that goes with us throughout life. So it is important that we help our children from a young age to gain value. A specialist tells us how to boost positive self-esteem in children.

  2. monica says:

    my name is monica and i really found this article helpful for my senior project. i really will appreciate if you can send me mor e information about how parents influence their children self-esteem

    1. Dear Monica,

      I sincerely appreciate your time and feedback. Of course, I will have to gain your contact information from my editor who publishes the articles and the replies. By the way, this article has three sections, which may offer some of the information that you are seeking.

      Again, thank you for your time and efforts.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  3. Greg L. Sharpe says:

    Wonderfully Inspiring Paper!

    1. Dear Greg L. Sharpe,

      I am appreciative of your warm remarks.

      May my future articles play a positive role in your life as well.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  4. Mary Carlson says:

    I have been working for 3 years and I really enjoy my job. I am 30 years old and stand up for myself. My colleagues don’t like it. Two women colleagues of mine at work have recently started saying things about me that are hurtful. I only have my job because I am eye-candy. I don’t deserve to get the things I am getting, how dare I come here and take their jobs, because I am now their boss. Then I got told one colleague says I don’t do my job properly, I don’t work with this woman but get all the stories back.

    I have now been told that they have gone to the boss. They stated that they are sick of this hair splitting and fighting. I really have no idea why I am the centre of it all since I have not said anything bad about anyone. Tomorrow I am going to my boss to ask him to have a meeting with my colleagues to see what they have to say to me when they are all in the same room at the same time. I enjoy my job I love the residents but I hate the fact that I am sick every time I come into work because of these three people.

    I don’t think it is fair. I feel bullied and helpless. I have been working in my field less time than my colleagues. I think they are most angry with me because I have authority over them.
    Please help any advise is welcomed.


    1. Dear Mary

      Thank you for taking the time to read my articles. It sounds as though you have had some real challenges with your colleagues. First of all, it is important that you keep your composure. Do not allow your colleagues to cause you undue distress or anxiety. Secondly, consider the feedback that you receive from your colleagues, because we can always learn from others are saying or perceiving. Do not accept responsibility for something you have not done. Do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of responsive accusations or gossip. Try being the better person by modeling a positive and professional attitude.

      It is always important that you seek out advice from your union steward or union representative, or supervising manager. Most of all, seek out counsel from a professional. It sounds as though the “hair splitting and fighting” has taken a toll upon you as a person and an employee. It is never wrong to seek out counsel, and you can gain from receiving positively construct counsel from a professional therapist.

      Again, thank you for your remarks and query.

      May you have a truly blessed day.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  5. Gina says:

    Dr. Brown, I read your bully article first. I have enjoyed your take on life. More people should think and write such messages. I am plan to read the remainder of this article. You make great points. Gina

    1. Dear Gina,

      Thank you for your very kind remarks. I appreciate your feedback as well.

      May this and future articles prove a blessing in your life.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  6. Cindy says:

    Could I repost this article on my blog?


    1. Dear Cindy,

      As a mere author, I do not have the say whether or not you may repost these articles. Please contact the CCPA regarding your request :

      Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association CCPA L’Association canadienne de counseling et de psychothérapie (ACCP) 114-223 Colonnade Rd S Ottawa, On K2E 7K3 Telephone/Téléphone: (613) 237-1099 Toll free (sans frais): 1-877-765-5565 Fax/Télécopieur: 613-237-9786 [email protected]

      I thank you for your time and request.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  7. Cindy says:

    Good tips on children. I have tried many things to be a good parent but it seems that I can’t always reach them. I have journaled about your article.

    Thanks for writing a great article!


    1. Dear Cindy

      I believe that as long as we try our best; seek out positively constructive advice; and accept positive constructive advice; that we will prove positive forces as parents.
      May this message and future messages prove a very positive force in your life.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  8. Johnny Kraiglund says:

    I read every response adn reply to Dr. Brown’s blog. Why have I ever heard of this man, Dr. Asa Don Brown? Does he have a practise? Where? Could i reach this person? How?

    I am encouraged by this blog to be a better parent adn person. Dr. Brown has a unique method to his writing style. I found it thought-provoking. His masterful way of writing that makes you consider the topic long beyond the read. Has he published other works?

    Remarkable blog. JK

    1. Dear Johnny,

      I apologize for the tardy reply.

      Let me begin by saying thank you. I am sincerely appreciative of your very kind feedback. Let me answer your questions: Do I have a private practice? The answer would be yes, I have a private practice in British Columbia, Canada. Why have you not heard of me? Well, I am a new fairly new to the blogging atmosphere. So, I am still learning the ropes and gaining my footing. Have I published? Yes, I have published two books (1) my doctoral research – “The effects of childhood trauma on adult perception and worldview,” and “Waiting to Live” (an inspirational and motivational book).

      May my following articles proving as inspiring.

      JK, I am sincerely appreciative of your very kind remarks.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  9. Lisa Terrill says:

    Dr. Asa,

    I could not agree with you more whole heartedly! Very educational and inspirational article. Sometimes as parents, I don’t think we realize how we translate poor feelings about ourselves to our children. The cycle must be stopped somewhere!

    Thanks for the insight and information! Keep it coming….


    1. Dear Lisa

      I do apologize for the tardy reply. I am encouraged and appreciative of your very kind remarks. It is vitally important that we take the time to monitor our own behaviors, attitudes, perceptions, and world views. As parents, we are responsible not only for how we raise our children, but how we impact our children’s lives.

      Lisa, my cousin, thank you for your very kind remarks.

      Warmest of Thoughts,

  10. Lisa Q says:

    Very interesting read. I was not aware of how one’s self-esteem was so heavily affected by our parents’ insecurities and vulnerabilities. It will be an interesting task for me to incorporate this article into my personal life and see which of my weaknesses were a result of observing my parents and which were a result of my life experiences. Perhaps that will be a first step to improving areas in which I’m lacking. I look forward to parts 2 and 3 and the intriguing and valuable information it provides!

    1. Dear Lisa,

      It is seldom in society that we hear such disciplines emphasized. We are cautioned about being prideful, but are encouraged to boast about the negative that occurs in our lives. Furthermore, it is seldom that parents are taught, encouraged, or aware of the fact, that what they say unto themselves, can have a profound effect upon their children.

      I do hope that the remainder of this article proves a positive force for you.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  11. Lisa says:

    Dear Dr Asa Brown,

    I enjoyed your insightful article. The simple fact that we are modals for our children and that they are influenced more heavily by our actions than our words, reminds me to be honest with myself and love who I am so that my actions match my words. Hopefully, I can avoid sending any mixed messages.

    Thank you for your inspiring words.


    1. Dear Lisa,

      I totally agree, that we must be the masters of our words, our choices, our actions, and our lives. We must be completely honest with our person. Likewise, if I want to completely love another, I must begin by loving myself unconditionally. I thank you for the very kind remarks and the insights.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  12. Caroline Collins says:

    Whether it be play, praise, reading postive literature to children, whatever the interaction, I believe it all plays a role in building a child’s self esteem. Our world is so busy we forget to stop and think that children are little people and have feelings and are measuring themselves up often based on how they are spoken to or treated quite often. I love your article and look forward to future readings

    1. Dear Caroline,

      Thank you for your very thoughtful remarks. As a parent it is up to us to provide the positive insulators that will ultimately protect them. Whether we offer praise, play, words, and/or literature, our children will be enabled to thrive because of our efforts.

      May the remainder of this article prove a positive force in your life.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  13. Martha Davis says:

    Anything we can do to promote self esteem is beneficial to our children and our world. This is an excellent article. I will be looking forward to future blogs.

    1. Dear Martha

      Thank you for your kind remarks pertaining to this article. It does start with us, as parents to promote our children’s self-esteem. Again, I thank you for your kind remarks.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  14. Leah Brown says:

    By the way, I meant young mother.

  15. Leah Brown says:

    This is an excellent article. Self esteem indeed makes the world a pleasant journey, without it life can be an uphill battle. I wish I had seen an article such as this before I ever had children. I praised my children and tried to instill self esteem in them but the foundation was not layed out for me and I believe that makes a huge difference. As a yong mother had I read an article such as this it would have been a wondrful eye opener.
    Thank you

    1. Dear Leah

      I am sincerely appreciative of your review. As a parent, I can assure you that your children will recognize your efforts to instill positive foundations. May the remainder of this article prove a positive force in your life.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  16. Marilee says:

    This article is so true and so many times, many of us don’t think of how our self esteem effects our children.
    More tend to think of the old saying “Monkey see, Monkey do”, and think that this is what we put into our kids minds.
    I have raised a son who is now full grown and hope that I have and can reflect more positive thoughts with him.
    I think we all need guidance from time to time and reading articles like yours is a great help, a friendly reminder.
    Look forward to your next article

    1. Dear Marilee

      I couldn’t agree with you more that reading positive literature is very important for the health of our children and our own lives. Children are direct reflections of their parents. It sounds like you’ve done an exceptional job with the raising of your son, and if grandchildren are ever in the picture, I am sure you’ll be a diligent grandparent as well.

      Warmest of Thoughts,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  17. Jean-Noel Li says:

    I have just attended a session with Dr Louis Tanguay who stressed on how our parental self-esteem reflects upon our children behaviour in life. Being parents, our children behaviour and leadership depend heavily on us as primary mentors in their lifes. Supposedly, as parents, we tend to be negative in our thinking or language of daily conversation, our kids will pick this up quite automatically without them knowing conciously. However, if we talk in a very positive manner, it most likely that our kids will be like us. Good to know when we need to evaluate our own behaviour. I guess, being happy parent with much laughter brings a good atmosphere at home or at the office!

    1. Dear Jean-Noel,

      I am sincerely appreciative of your feedback. I agree with your review wholeheartedly. If you are negative your children will inherit this negative way of thinking about life. Reversely, if you are a positive parent, your children will inherit a positive perspective of life. Jean-Noel, as a societal whole, I would say that parents or people tend to think on a more critical perspective, however, if you are diligent you can think from a more positive perspective.

      Again, thank you for taking the time to offer a review of my paper.

      Warm Regards,


  18. Jeff Landine says:

    I have always believed that self-esteem was closely tied to my self-concepts. As I consider the various traits, skills, behaviours and assorted other variables that make up my “self”, the way I feel about each of these self variables constitutes my self-esteem. But you are suggesting that my self worth, or the way I feel about myself, should be coming from the unconditional positive worth that comes from merely being human. This would relinquish the need to value all those things that make up me, correct?

    1. Dear Jeff

      For a clarification: Loving yourself unconditionally does not eliminate the rest of your makeup, rather it allows for the individual to see him or herself beyond their successes and failures. I am not saying that we cannot recognize our accomplishments and failures, rather, I am saying that who we are is much grander than the simple day-to-day occurrences within our life.

      Please understand that I am not saying we are to relinquish the good and bad that occurs in our lives, rather I am saying that if you love yourself unconditionally, you’ll see yourself beyond your failures and successes. If you choose to see yourself as your failures and successes, then the value of the person may rise or decline whenever they fail or succeed.

      The unconditional love of self works as an insulator against all good and bad that occurs in our lives. The unconditional love that is innately human is the foundation that affirms and reaffirms your self worth. However, as we live our lives in a humanity that is not always supportive, it is essential that we continue to recognize that we, being humans, are deserving of a continuous flow of unconditional love of self. Unconditional love allows for me to love myself, in-spite of any challenges that may occur in my life.

      I sure appreciate your time, your comments and feedback.

      Warm Regards,


  19. Nickey cullumbine says:

    As a mother to a daughter who is autistic and she has low self esteem due to her life experiences before her diagnosis i have done all i can to bolster her confidence etc. I found this article very helpfull and thought provokeing. It has certainly made me look at a couple of things diffrently. I look forward to reading more. Thank You Asa.

    1. Dear Nickey,

      I am certainly appreciative of your review of my work. Diagnostic concerns can be challenging, but they do not have to be barricades preventing us from living life fully and unconditionally. It is essential that we seek to live life beyond that challenges that we face. If you actively display unconditional love of self, then your child will reap the benefits of this modeling behavior. Therefore allowing both you and your child to live life to its fullest.

      May this article prove a positive force in your life.

      Warm Regards,


  20. Rikki says:

    This article is very well written. Self worth and esteem can be overlooked as we parent our children. I continuously work on providing my children with what they need so they realize their worth, but I had never considered the impact my own negative self talk could reflect onto them. This article was insightful and knowledgeable. The piece provided me with another aspect to take into account while guiding my children through a life filled with love, respect and positivity. I look forward to reading more on this subject.

    1. Dear Rikki

      I am certainly appreciative of your very kind remarks. Life is about living, and each day that we take a breath, we need to consider not only how we are affecting our own being, but how our life may have an impact upon others, especially those who rely upon us for guidance. Our children.

      May the remainder of this article prove a positive force for you.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  21. Susan Kerr says:

    Good article. I certainly wish this kind of information had been available during my childhood and child rearing days. Very valuable!
    The last sentence says so much.

    1. Dear Susan

      I thank you for the review of this article. It sounds like this article may have made a difference for you during your own childhood and your own parenting.

      I am sincerely appreciative of your time and review.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  22. Farah says:

    I will be much more aware of the energy I bring to kids, especially on low moments, I want them to see how well I can handle lifes trial and tribulations. I want them to have positive self esteem.

    1. Dear Farah

      It sounds like you have a deep desire to model positive behaviors for your children. I do hope that this article will provide a few insights and helpful suggestions towards living a more fulfilled life.

      I thank you for your review and your time.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  23. Trevor Knill says:

    I think this is a great subject to write about. I understand and see the way my attitude and choices influence my chilren. I really do believe that this should be talked about alot more. I think you did a wonderful job writing the article, and can’t wait to read the next two parts. Thank you.

    1. Dear Trevor,

      I am certainly appreciative of your perspective on this article. Our attitudes and choices play a significant role in the life of our children. If we consistently make poor choices, our children will be egregiously effected by such choices. Yet, if we make positive choices, our children will be inspired to make good decisions in their own lives.

      I am sincerely appreciative of your thoughts and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  24. Marcie says:

    I am intrigued to hear and read more on this subject. One school of thought on increasing a child’s self esteem is to simply praise them, however as a teacher and a parent I have seen and experienced first hand that there is more to it than that. It would make complete sense that what we model/feel about ourselves speaks louder than the words we say. I am looking forward to reading future insights from Dr. Brown.

    1. Dear Marcie,

      You are correct, praising plays a significant role in the life of the child. It is essential that children receive praise. I am certainly appreciative of your valuable time, perspective, and feedback.

      May the remainder of this article prove a positive role in your life.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  25. Cheyanne Erickson says:

    This is very interesting. As a new mother myself to hear that my child will pick up our mannerisms and now hearing that she can pick up our self-esteem and insecurities too makes one want to be more cautious of what is said and done in the house hold. Really inspires me to improve my own self-awareness and attitude so as to not pass on old baggage to our Daughter. Thanks Asa!

    1. Dear Cheyanne,

      Improving our self-awareness is the first step towards becoming more effective parents and people. I am sincerely appreciative of your thoughtful review of this article.

      May you continue to prove an effective and decisive parent.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  26. Chris Montoya says:

    I like what you say, “Who we are, the worth of our being, has nothing to do with the behaviors, attitudes, or percepts that create our image.” Our behaviors indeed tend to reflect how we see ourselves. This is where I feel religion sometimes misses the boat. They should be saying as Jesus says, “Ye are sons and daughters of God.” We were bought by the blood of Christ. We have immense value in God’s eyes: Eternal self-esteem. This is the belief system one needs to stand against all types of fears and doubts. If parents, however, doubt God’s love for them their children will also doubt their worth. So parents… know your value!

    1. Dear Chris Montoya

      I am appreciative of your viewpoints on this article. Your words draw an interesting parallel between the Christian perspective and the theoretical views held by counseling-psychological community.

      I thank you for your time and efforts.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  27. Tracy says:

    As a mother of 2 daughters, I find it very thought provoking that my beliefs, thoughts, actions and personal self-esteem have such a strong influence on the self-esteem of my daughters. I will need to pay close attention to my own actions as I want my children to have an positive self-esteem to help them throughout their lives.

    1. Dear Tracy,

      As a parent of two daughters myself, I can reflect your sentiments about wanting to offer my best to my children. Paying close attention to our actions and reactions can always provide a good gage on how we are behaving as parents.

      May you continue to pursue being a positive parent and influence on your daughters.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  28. Deborah Pickering says:

    Hi Asa,
    This is a nicely written article. I find it to be informative and at the same time very upbeat and positive. I look forward to the next installment.
    Cheers, Deb P.

    1. Dear Deb,

      Thank you for your very kind message. I found your reflection on my posting to be an accurate review of this particular article.

      May you have a blessed day.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

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