Parenting coach shares insightful tips on how to develop self-esteem in children under 5

As parents, we want to pump up our children as much as we can, and oftentimes that comes in the form of praise or compliments. This type of positive reinforcement can be beneficial (especially non-physical compliments!), but there are other even more effective ways to not only boost your kid’s self-esteem, but also help them develop their self-concept.

Instagrammer Liomarys Reyes (@thechanlcafreemami) recently went viral after posting a reel that shares three ways to develop self-esteem in children before the age of 5.

Before even getting into the tips, the M. Ed certified parenting coach explains why this particular age is so important. “Why before the age of 5?” she says in the reel. “Because by that age their self-concept is developed. And you’re going to get later the teenager that’s a product of those formative years. So whatever you put in during the first years of life is what you’re going to get back when they become teenagers.”

“Most sexually risky behavior during teenage years is a product of a low self-concept developed in the first five years of life,” Reyes also points out, “so yes, this stuff matters.”

After explaining the importance of developing self-concept at a young age, Reyes dives into her tips: “Number one, you’re going to allow your kid to do things, to try things, to make mistakes,” she says. “You’re going to promote them having roles in the home. Let them fold clothes; let them put away dishes; let them help you give the pet a bath. Let them do things that allow them to develop the idea that ‘I’m a capable human and I know how to do things. And when I make mistakes, I just keep on going.’”

“The second thing you’re going to do is when they do make mistakes, you’re going to welcome those mistakes as opportunities to learn,” she continues. “Instead of labeling the child as ‘you’re not good at this, get out of my way,’ you’re going to use the opportunity to coach someone how to do things correctly. ‘Hey, I saw you did this. How about we try it this way?’ so the child learns, ‘I can grow from my mistakes because I am a capable person that is capable of contributing to this home.’”

“The last thing: you’re not going to use stickers and rewards,” Reyes concludes. “You’re going to let them create an internalized positive feeling when they do the right thing. Because guess what, you’re not always going to be there giving out stickers.”

If your kid is older than 5 and reading this is giving you major anxiety, don’t fret. There are still ways to help them develop self-esteem at an older age. “Private Logic is developed by the age of 5. However, after the age of 5 you are still on time to facilitate, coach, and guide from a Recovery model or even an EnCouragement model,” Reyes wrote in the reel’s caption. “Don’t quit on your kiddos.”