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Toddlers & Preschoolers
Last Reviewed September 2014


Building self-esteem

Self-esteem is:

  • How we see ourselves.
  • How we feel about ourselves.
  • How much we value ourselves.

Children with healthy self-esteem:

  • Do better in school.
  • Are more willing to try new things.
  • Are happier.
  • Are healthier.
Build your childís self-esteem by encouraging him in his tasks. Itíll show him you love and support him no matter what.

Encouragement and Praise

Kids need their parents' encouragement and support – and not just when they do a good job. Encouraging them will help them want to learn new skills; it will also show them that you love and respect them no matter what.


Encouragement or Praise – What's the Difference?


  • Encouragement is commenting on what your child does, and not on how well he does it.
  • It is your way of supporting your child and helping him enjoy learning new skills.
  • Give encouragement when you see your child putting effort into a task, like drawing a picture, or playing a game – even if he needs some practice learning how to do it.


  • Praise is commenting on the results of a task or how well your child is doing something.
  • Praise may feel like a reward to a child, that he can earn by doing something well.
  • A child who is only used to hearing praise (and not encouragement) may feel he has to be good at something to get love from people.

Children need encouragement with all tasks that they do, mixed with a bit of praise when they improve or do something very well.

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Your children need your encouragement with a little bit of praise sprinkled in, too.

How do I encourage my child?

Show Your Interest

  • Show your child you're interested in what she's doing.
  • You don't need to comment on each and every good thing she does, but show her you're watching and paying attention.

Tell Your Child What You Saw

  • Tell your child what you saw him do, for example "You used a lot of different colours in your painting."

Talk Less, Ask More

  • Ask your child about her activity or craft, for example, "What do you like best about your drawing?"

Here are some real life examples that you can use:

Instead of Saying... Trying Saying...
"I like the way you..." Nothing – just show her you're paying attention to what she's doing
"Good drawing! I love those pictures!" "It looks like you worked really hard on that"
"You're such a great helper!" "You set the table! That makes things a lot easier on me when I'm cooking."
"Good job putting the puzzle together!" "Look at the progress you've made putting the puzzle together!"
"Good sharing." "Doesn't it make you feel good when you share your toys?"

The early years is an important time for helping your child build self-esteem and resilience. Parents play a key role in building resilience in their children. Good communication is important, especially when it comes to talking about alcohol and drugs. Learn more about building resilience, positive communication and supporting your children to avoid drugs and alcohol with our Talk about Drugs online parent modules.  

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For more information:

Region of Peel - Public Health
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
to speak with a Public Health Nurse

Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216

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Revised: Friday August 19 2016


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