15 Ways to Build Your Child's Self-Esteem Without Praise

Where exactly does self-esteem come from? The basic building blocks of self-esteem are found in childhood, in how our most emotionally significant people (usually our parents) see us. How you interact with your child matters very much! And since we know that over 90% of social communication is non-verbal, verbal praise is only a tiny part of the equation. Here are some fun ways to build self-esteem, without words:

  1. Cuddle. Each morning before hurrying into the crazed morning routine, spend 5-10 minutes snuggling with your child. 

  2. Smile. Warm, genuine smiles that communicate, "You are perfect just the way you are."

  3. Stare. A staring contest is a playful way to get more eye contact, so necessary to build self-esteem.

  4. Pat her on the back. Give a reassuring hand on his shoulder.

  5. Excited high fives. Even for the "little" things!

  6. Create a secret, special handshake just the two of you. 

  7. Hugs. 30 seconds each, and 20 hugs a day!

  8. Back-rubs. Massage. A great way to do this with young kids is by telling a story about the weather, using various touches to represent sunshine, rain, clouds, thunder, etc.

  9. Lotion. Spend time nurturing your child by lotioning their hands, arms or feet. (Note: this is only appropriate if your child enjoys the feeling of lotion).

  10. Draw letters or shapes on your child's back as they drift off to sleep.

  11. Hold your child close. Hum a song or gently sway as you hold your child.

  12. "Straight face challenge" game. Challenge your child to not smile or laugh as you make silly faces and sounds.

  13. Copycat game. Have your child copy a silly face or sound you make. Switch.

  14. Comb, brush, and style his or her hair. Ever so gently. Spend time afterwards noticing how precious your child is.

  15. Special kisses. Eyelash kisses, nose kisses, etc.