Building Self-esteem in Today’s Kids

“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:4-6)

How Kids Think

Kids protest, “I can’t possibly do that!” Many children don’t believe they are capable of attempting new tasks and challenges. Insecurities, low self-esteem, and feelings of inadequacy often undermine their confidence, making them fearful or apprehensive.

God’s Wisdom

The Biblical words for confidence mean “to trust” and “to be bold.” For Christians, confidence begins with trust in God and in the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power. Paul tells the believers in Rome, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). God Himself is at work within believers, enabling us to accomplish everything He asks us to do!

Believers need God’s enabling confidence—even for the ordinary and extraordinary tasks of life. Difficult situations such as starting a new job, talking to a stranger about God’s love, or facing interpersonal conflict, can bring out worry and fear. However, when we are confident in God’s power and trust Him, we can tackle new challenges, walk through changes, attempt new tasks, and overcome hurdles we would not ordinarily undertake. We can affirm Paul’s words, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

True Story

Toby was worried about starting flag football. Even though several friends were on the team, this was the first season he would officially play. Toby often played catch with his dad in the driveway and enjoyed playing noncompetitively with friends, but he was still nervous. Many of the kids on the team had played before; Toby wondered if his catching and throwing skills were good enough.

On the way to his first practice, he lamented, “Mom, what if I’m just bad at catching and throwing and can’t get any better?” The past few days, Toby had brought up his concern about being naturally bad at football. Kerry assured her son that he was not naturally bad at the sport; he could learn how to throw and catch the ball. She reminded Toby of his love of sports and natural athletic ability. Her convincing assurances, however, did not seem to put a dent in his nervous attitude.

So, Kerry began praying for her son. Though she could reassure him all day, she couldn’t make Toby believe her words. She implored God to give him confidence and courage to try new techniques during practices. Kerry realized that Toby’s doomsday attitude would make it harder for him to learn, and it might make his season miserable!

One day after school, Toby looked at his hand and commented, “Hey mom, guess what? I realized I have bigger hands than most kids at school.” Kerry smiled at his random comment, and agreed that he had inherited his father’s lanky frame and long fingers. A few days later, the topic came up again in the car. “Mom! I’m feeling so confident today going to practice. I have these big hands, and I feel like God gave me these big hands to catch and throw footballs with. I just want to keep doing it. I feel like I can DO this.” Kerry grinned as she realized that God was answering her prayers right before her eyes. Instead of talking Toby into the confidence he needed, she had interceded to the Lord to give her son self-assurance. God had answered!

What You Can Do

  • Always believe in your child; affirm every effort; and don’t compare him or her with other kids.
  • As you consistently pray for your child, surrender his or her journey to the Lord.
  • Explain to your son or daughter that confidence is like a muscle; it grows with practice and experience. What Christians cannot do in our own strength, God can do through us!
  • Memorize Philippians 4:13 together and discuss ways to foster a “can do” attitude

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