The Components of Self-Esteem

Children’s self-esteem can fluctuate because may things can affect it. For tweens, this pyramid is a nice, neat way of looking at those components.

self_esteemGarber, Garber and Spizman’s Self-Esteem Pyramid
Peer Influence
Parental Feedback
Real Accomplishments
Unconditional Positive Regard


We show unconditional love and acceptance and build the foundation of our children’s self-worth when we communicate in respectful ways toward them, even when we’re angry frustrated, or bewildered at their behaviour.

Real accomplishments are things our kids do that are measurable, that they couldn’t do before, that they can do now.

Praise doesn’t affect our children’s self-esteem, because true self-esteem comes from an internal assessment, not an external one. It’s encouragement that supports the development of self-esteem; it literally means “to instill with courage”. Encouragement focuses on the effort that a child makes, whereas praise focuses on the results of that effort.

For example, praise would be a parent saying “You got an A! I’m so proud of you!” What we really want to do is to focus on the effort, an example being, “You worked hard in science this year.” This can be challenging, as we are a results driven society and we need to shift the way we see things to really make a positive difference.

Ross, Julie A. (2008). How to Hug a Porcupine. USA: McGraw Hill.
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