Michelle Barratt Psychology - Brisbane Child Clinical Psychologists


A Child or Adolescent Clinical Psychologist can help support you child build a self-esteem that will provide them with the confidence to believe in themselves again.  Self esteem is the result of how a person regards him or her self:

  • On their physical appearance

  • On their skills

  • On Professional Success

  • On the richness of their personal life

Fundamentally, when we live a life that respects and aligns with our own values, self-esteem increases, but it decreases every time our behaviour is contrary to the values we have set ourselves.

A way to explain Low Self-esteem is that much of how we value ourselves is viewed through the opinions of others and not in regards to a sincere and positive regard or belief in ourselves.  An individual with low self-esteem will feel like they have to prove themselves to others all the time; to win their approval and recognition.  However, if those opinions of others are not positive in nature, it will undoubtedly have a very negative impact on a person self-esteem; thus quite likely lowering their self-esteem. 


Obtaining high self-esteem means that it is about liking yourself and feeling good about yourself. It means that a when a person obtains a sense of achievement, they believe that they have acquired it for themselves, and because it is something they believe they want to do and not due to needing the recognition of someone else.

High self-esteem is a prerequisite for trusting and acting on one's own intuition, so that one can continue to develop their creativity, building an identity for themselves.   When a person's self-esteem is high you don’t have to win at all costs; you can be flexible when you need to be. You are your own person. You can behave spontanaiety and don’t have to constantly measure yourself against other people’s standards. You take responsibility for fulfilling your own needs.

Most importantly a child can begin to trust, build and accept their own thoughts and feelings, and clearly recognise and rely on when they are happy, angry, fearly and sad, and you feel safe enough to express your feelings appropriately because they are in line with your OWN values and not based on someone elses that you don't really own in your mind. 

Building Self Esteem

The Benefits of High Self-Esteem Long-term

Self-esteem gives your child a positive attitude and a sense of optimism. It reduces anxiety, encourages positive decision-making, and promotes healthful and smart conflict resolution. These traits benefit children as they mature into adults, helping them excel in the classroom, in personal relationships and in their career. As a parent, you can encourage higher self-esteem in your child, preparing him for a happy, successful life.  Researh has also shown that if one has high self-esteem, people are more likely to have full and happy relationships and overall, a person is more usually more effective and productive in the classroom and in the work place

Risks of Low Self-Esteem

Unfortunately, long term risks of low self-esteem often can lead a child into depression and at times experience anxiety. Addressing these issues sooner rather than later is vitally important to them leading a healthy and confident life.



1.  Most of all, young people need to be believed in by the people around them. Fundamentally, young people need to have people around them that believe in them and speak positively to them - they need to be noticed for the positive things they do. Children are not just born with high self-esteem – it can simply be build up or torn down.  If children are spoken to critically and negatively, they are likely build a portrait of them that is very damaging to their self-esteem.

2.  Listening to your children/teenagers - really hear what they have to say. That way you will build and establish a trusting parent-child relationship from the very beginning. Being responsive to your child's needs provides them with evidence that they are worthy of your time, attention and love.   For example,  try to respond to the underlying meaning of what they are saying rather than responding to just the content - most of the time, what they want you to hear is not what they are actually saying but what they are not saying. For example, "I need you to love me", "I need you to support me".

3.  Spend 'quality time' with them - time that involves something that they are invested in and interested in to spend time with you - then spend time with them sharing something of yourself and what you like to do. 

4. Display a positive attitude about yourself and others. Become the person you want them to become - the role model that respects yourself and speaks positively about yourself in all facets of your life; your weight, the way you look and carry yourself in front of others.

5.  Hug them every now and again - show them some affection not just in your hugs, but in your voice and in your eyes - indicating to them you understand them and validate the difficult experiences they are having.


6.  Help your child set goals and help them identify ways themselves to achieve them. Be supportive when they fail and focus on the 'getting up' rather than the 'falling down'. Use the 'falling down' as an opportunity to learn from their mistakes so that they can build confidence in themselves to try again


7.  Encourage them to try something new and that to explore the world is a good thing. Trying new things (reasonably) enables them to build the confidence in themselves that they can accomplish and overcome new challenges.   Encourage them to see that if they fail, it is a learning process about their strengths and weakness and what they can build upon, not that they are a failure and should never have tried it in the first place.


8.  Talk to them about trusing their inner wisdom - even if you can see the writing on the wall... allow them to have a little fall - learning from experiences can speak louder than words sometimes, and that building a sense of achievement through getting up and trying again is a very important concept in life to learn: that in fact everyone fails at one time or another. 


9.  Focus on their best qualities and remind them that every person has unique strengths and weaknesses.


10.  Speak positively to the things they are doing well and achieve in.


11.  Create a sense of belonging - that the family/friends they have are a unique and integral part of who they are, and that they deserve to be loved and supported even when they fail, and not only when they succeed. 



Encourage your child or teenager to dream – to think bigger about their dreams and to have the faith to extend themselves. With speaking your support to not only their dreams but to their ability to fulfill their dream will empower them to take those steps to move forward.



An important part of building a child’s/teenagers self-esteem is to teach or help your child to set their own goals. Encourage your teenager to set smaller achievable measurable goals that build up toward their final goal – they therefore need to be SMART because they are:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Achievable

  • Realistic, and have a time frame for them


35 Wondall Road


Qld 4178

Tel: 0401 924 331 

Fax:  (07) 3009 0553


Suite 37, Level 1 Benson House,

No. 2 Benson Street, TOOWONG,

Qld 4066.

Tel: 0411 731 516

Fax: (07) 3009 0075


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Michelle Barratt is a Fellow of the Clinical College at the Australian Psychological Society.