I M Confident Niagara Canada
'building confidence and increasing esteem'

Many people do not understand what having good self-esteem is and believe it is the same as having confidence. These 2 words are similar in meaning, however they are not really the same thing.

Let's look at how the dictionary defines self-esteem and confidence.




  • a feeling of having respect for yourself and your abilities
  • a confidence and satisfaction in oneself


  • a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something
  • a feeling or belief that someone or something is good or has the ability to succeed at something
  • the feeling of being certain that something will happen or that something is true
  • a relationship in which you tell personal and private information to someone

These definitions are not very clear on what the difference is between these 2 words.   Simply stated, confidence is how others see you and self-esteem is how you see yourself. 

Here is a quick story to show the difference.

Bea is a teacher and works very hard at helping her students learn.  Sometimes she is asked to speak in front of the entire school and she does this very well.  All her fellow teachers think she is confident and has strong self-esteem


Bea knows she is a good speaker and yes she does have confidence in her speaking ability.  She has always had a natural talent for speaking and loves to write stories.


However, Bea has very poor esteem.  When she has to give a speech, she spends hours choosing the right clothing and fixing her hair and makeup because she thinks she looks fat and ugly.  Then she starts worrying that everyone will laugh at her.


Everyone can see Bea's confidence in her speaking abilities, but they can't see her self-esteem or how she feels about herself, only Bea can see that. 


To summarize:

  • Everyone can see our confidence
  • Only we can see our self-esteem
  • We can be confident without having good self-esteem
  • We need confidence to have good self-esteem
Many adults suffer with self-esteem issues.  Our esteem forms in childhood when we are growing, developing and learning.  We can develop a healthy esteem or a poor esteem depending on whether our environment is positive or negative and we carry the result into adulthood.
Self-esteem can go up and down throughout life but with a healthy esteem, it is easier to deal with difficult life situations and bounce back quickly. 
Throughout our lives, circumstances can change our esteem either temporarily or permanently. This could include:
  • Serious life situations (a death, divorce)
  • Abusive relationships
  • Loss of jobs or financial stress


Low self-esteem can be caused by several factors:

  • little or no love and attention
  • lack of encouragement
  • abuse
  • negative environment
  • constant criticisms and complaints
  • too much or too little control
  • neglect
  • mental illnesses
  • addictions
  • being over-immersed in the media

When you have low self-esteem, it can result in:

  • little or no confidence
  • poor judgement
  • insecurity
  • fear
  • depression & other mental illnesses
  • addictions
  • negativity
  • work instability
  • few friends or poor relationships


If you suffer from low self-esteem, it's time to take action and start building some confidence. It's never too late, so get up and get going!!  


Surround yourself with positive people, places and things.  Find a group that has your interests and commit to going on a regular basis. Find a local church and become involved in their activities.  There are all sorts of people looking for someone like you to be a friend.   The hard part is getting started, but once you do, just keep going!   YOU CAN DO IT!!!


Some ideas on how to build esteem:
  • do an honest self evaluation to discover your own values, principles and moral standards
  • determine what changes need to be made
  • identify self-critical thoughts and challenge them
  • replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk
  • set new, positive habits and practice them regularly
  • say positive affirmations daily
  • accept your imperfections, nobody is perfect, just do your best
  • appreciate your body
  • help others, it not only makes them feel good, it will also make you feel good
  • eliminate as much negativity as you can from your life
  • join an interest group or club
  • eat healthy, exercise and sleep well
  • praise yourself when it is deserved


If I had my child to raise all over again, 
I'd build self esteem first, and the house later.
I'd fingerpaint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
I'd see the oak tree in the acorn more often.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
I'd model less about the love of power,
And more about the power of love.

by Diane Loomans


When a child is born, they don't feel good or bad about themselves.  They have no concept of self-esteem yet, and will develop it by watching and listening to the adults around them. 


Healthy self-esteem is important as it helps children develop a good self-worth and they are able to face the challenges of the world around them.   Having a healthy esteem means that our esteem is balanced and not too low or too high.  When children have low esteem, they think poorly about themselves and it is difficult for them to make proper decisions.  With esteem that is too high, it can be equally difficult for a child to make good decisions because they think too highly of themselves, becoming egocentric and not really caring about other people.

Adults need to realize the importance of helping a child build a healthy, balanced esteem.



Children with healthy esteem:  Children with poor esteem: 

*feel good about themselves

*resist negative pressures

*are realistic

*are optimistic

*enjoy interacting with others

*are independent

*face challenges

*know strengths and weaknesses

*are caring and helpful

*do well in school

*feel poorly about themselves

*are negative

*give up easily

*don't try new things

*criticize others

*are disappointed in themselves

*are pessimistic

*don't join in group activities

*are dependent on others

*do poorly in school  


How can parents (and other adults) help their children build esteem? Following is a list of ideas.  These can also be viewed as a slide presentation by clicking here

1)  Create a safe, loving home environment - This is the most important thing that a child needs - to feel loved and safe.  Give hugs and tell them you are proud of them.  Respect your children and help them to build confidence.  When they have problems with peers or other adults, deal with these issues quickly and sensitively so it will not affect their self-esteem in a negative way. 

2)  Be a positive role model - It is hard to be a good parent as we tend to be negative about our own abilities and have bad habits that we don't want our children to pick up.  Females are especially critical about their self-image and this may be passed along to their children.  Try to be positive about yourself and work on building your own self-esteem so your child will have a good role model.  Discuss how society creates an unrealistic image of beauty and help them understand that real beauty is not just how they look, it comes from within. 

3)  Watch what you say and do - Children listen to everything that an adult says and watch everything that an adult does.  Be careful with your words and actions as they may be imitated.  Children want to be like their parents so they will pick up a lot of your good and bad habits.  You might just discover a bad habit in your child that has come directly through you. 

4)  Encourage and give praise - Encourage your child to try new things and praise them for a job well done.  If they have really tried their best, tell them how proud you are of their effort.  Help them understand that they will sometimes fail, but that it is okay because they can't always be successful.  Teach them how to learn something positive from their mistakes. 

5)  Help them deal with emotions in a positive way - Children will become upset and angry sometimes, but they need to know it is okay to feel this way and even cry about things.  Teach them how to deal effectively with their emotions - to act, but not react.  Explain that when they have these emotions, it is not okay to hurt themself, hurt others or break anything.  They need to learn how to stop and think before making a decision as to what they will do. 

6)  Communicate with your child - Listen to what your child is saying even if you don't agree with them or want to listen.  It is important that a child feels like you are listening, so they can build confidence in their speaking abilities and feel like they are valued.  If your child feels like they can talk to you about anything, it will build a good relationship between parent and child and they will be more likely to talk with you when serious issues arise. 

7)  Help set realistic goals - Goals give purpose to life and will help your child keep focused on what they want to achieve.  Help them write down their goals and check regularly to make sure they are following them. 

8)  Encourage your child to engage in positive activities - Keeping active in a positive way will help build confidence and increase esteem.  These activities could include sports, exercise, activity groups and music. Activities that involve helping others or volunteering are valuable in fostering self-esteem.  Volunteering not only benefits the receiver, it also benefits the giver in many ways (physical, mental, spiritual). 

9)  Discipline with love - Children need to have some simple and realistic boundaries that are enforced.  Discuss these boundaries with your child and make sure they understand the consequences of their actions.  When boundaries are crossed, separate the action from the child and punish the action, not the child.  Always be fair, open-minded and reasonable.  

10) Allow your child to make mistakes - Teach your child that life isn't perfect and that they will fail sometimes.  Help them when they struggle, but they need to learn that failure happens and they have to work through some things by themselves.  When your child does fail, support them and discuss how they can improve the next time.




The teen years are very difficult and many teens struggle with self-esteem and body image issues. 
Peer pressure is tremendous and teens are trying very hard to be accepted while going through changes in their bodies.  Comparing themselves to others becomes important as they compete for attention.   They look at actors and models wishing they had their 'perfect' lives and 'beautiful' bodies.
It isn't realistic to measure ourselves against other people because we are all unique individuals and we can't possibly be the same as somebody else. 
What can parents and other adults do to help teens develop esteem?  Here are some tips:
  1. Love and support - Love is always the most important thing in building esteem.  Take a few minutes every day to tell your child how special they are to you.  Spend some time with them and build a close relationship.  Support them when they need help.  Hugs are always great, as long as they are meaningful and don't become just a habit.
  2. Encourage - Remind your teen that they are unique and nobody is like them.  Tell them they are special and give them a list of why they are special (abilities, talents, strengths).  Be honest with them and keep the lines of communication open.  Teens may not always want to talk to you and may not seem to be listening, but they hear more than you think they do and just need time to process what you say.
  3. Be open-minded - You won't always agree with what your teen says, but respect them and try not to control what they think and do.  Listen to what they say.  Try to trust their judgment.  If you have taught them good values and morals, they will likely do the right thing.
  4. Choose your words carefully - Watch what you say.  Remember that once you say something, you can't take it back and words can be very hurtful and damaging.  What we say can influence people in a positive or negative way.  Try not to create any barriers in communication.
  5. Be honest - Tell your teen the truth about life matters. Share with your teen some of the things that you did at their age and the lessons you learned. This will help them deal with their own issues in these areas.  Talk to them about the false images they see in magazines and on TV and how important it is to understand the truth about advertising.
  6. Be a good role model - This is good for teens, children and other adults.  Teens are always watching the adults around them, so we need to be careful we are not doing something that will affect them in a negative way.  By setting a good example, it will influence people to do the right thing and help boost esteem.
  7. Compliment them! - Try to say something nice about what they are wearing, their hair style or accessory.  What you say will give them a nice boost.

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