The One Secret Most Parents Don’t Know About Children’s Self-Esteem

Val Mullally

October 7, 2016

the biggest lie that deceives most parents

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In our recent series on children’s self esteem, parents have learnt how to help their children develop competence and confidence, a stronger sense of connection to themselves and others, and how they can feel better about themselves and recognise their unique value. But did you know that you, as the parent, still have another significant part to play in building your child’s self-esteem? Here’s The One Secret Most Parents Don’t Know About Children’s Self-Esteem.

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Sue was excited when she found the three-part series on self-esteem, on the MyKidstime website by Parenting author Val Mullally.

Suddenly it all made sense to her – improved self-esteem wasn’t like catching a cold, something you did have or you didn’t have, with no idea where or how it came.

She could now see there are three distinct, and equally important, aspects of self-esteem. But somehow, even with an understanding of these three key elements, Sue still didn’t know how to move forward. What was the missing element she needed to build her daughter’s self-esteem?  Sue wrote to Val with her concern.

Here’s what Val revealed:

‘There’s a dark secret that hardly any parents realise exists,’ I explained.

Sue was keen to hear more.

‘The secret lies in the fact that your child is deeply influenced by you, the parent. So a child’s self-esteem is deeply impacted by the parent’s self-esteem.’

Does that mean that the three keys you wrote about don’t work?’ queried Sue.

‘Oh, they work!  If you want to unlock the door to your child’s success, those three keys are essential,’ I replied. ‘The only thing is, it all starts with you, the parent. As long as your child is living under your roof, your self-esteem is like a glass ceiling to your child. If you want your child to have higher self esteem, the most important thing you can do is raise your own self esteem.’

The good news is that now every parent who has read this series knows how to raise self-esteem. And using the keys to unlock self-esteem within our own lives is not only likely to free our children from a prison of disliking who they are, it can also turn our own lives on a far more positive projectory.

So here’s my challenge to every parent. Build your own self-esteem. Do it for your children’s sake as well as your own.

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A few thoughts on each of these three key elements of parents’ self-esteem:

#1. Your Sense of Competence as a Parent

Oprah once commented that we are all doing the best we can right now, and that when we know better we do better.

So if you want to develop your confidence, then develop your competence by learning something new – whether it’s an online parenting course, learning a new art, language, sport, or musical instrument.

Learn something new. Or learn to do something better. Not just any thing – but something that matters to you.

mum and daughter laughing

#2. Your Sense of Belonging

Often as parents our sense of belonging to (and with) our own family is strong; so strong that we sometimes forget our need to also belong (connect) to our own selves, our bodies, our feelings, our experiences and our dreams.

If you want to increase your sense of belonging, ask yourself what sense of connection is your heart yearning for  – whether it’s quality time with your significant other, relax time with your wider family and with friends, quiet time with yourself or with God (whatever your understanding of God), with nature, with a favourite activity.

happy mum

Nurture the connections that matter to you, and especially your connection with yourself.

#3. Treat Yourself as Someone of Worth

Do you look in the mirror and like who you see? Do you talk to yourself with the same compassion that you talk with your friends?

Every time you catch yourself demeaning yourself (being mean to yourself!) STOP – and rephrase that with the caring, understanding and encouragement you’d give your friends.

Your children learn what you model. Show them by your example that every person is of worth. Do it for their sake, even if it feels weird at first. Be your own best friend.

Every parent who knows the secret of these three keys can unlock a happier and more fulfilling life for themselves and for their families; one small, doable step at a time.

When you’ve had a chance to reflect on this blog, read again my three blog posts  on these vital keys to self esteem – competence, connection and worth, and reflect on how they apply to you, because minding yourself well is probably the single-most important thing you can do to mind your children well.

BEHAVE- The Mindful Parenting Solution Course

Why not sign up for a 6 week practical course online with parenting expert and author Val Mullally, founder of Koemba Parenting, where she reveals three key signposts to support you in being the parent you’d love to be?


  • how to handle your child’s challenging behaviour
  • why punishment doesn’t work; why discipline does
  • practical parenting tools to create a calmer, happier home.

A new video is released very week over a six week period, so get the guide every parent needs!

Over to you! Have you any further thoughts on this series, or any questions? Let me know in the comments below.



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Published On: October 7th, 2016 / Categories: For Parents / Last Updated: March 30th, 2021 / Tags: , /

About the Author: Val Mullally

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Val Mullally focuses on activating your inner wisdom in work, parenthood and life. She is an accredited Parenting Coach, Professional Reflective Practice Facilitator and founder of Koemba Parenting. She offers Parenting courses (both face-to-face and online), and is available as a workshop facilitator and a keynote speaker. Val is author of: 'BEHAVE - What to Do When Your Child Won’t’, ‘Stop Yelling – 9 Steps to Calmer, Happier Parenting’ ‘Baby and Toddler on Board – Mindful Parenting When a New Baby Joins the Family’ and ‘Ancient Wisdom for Business Success – How to Lead with Courage, Clarity and Confidence’ She is currently co-authoring ‘In Defence of the Naughty Child - Understanding Sensory Sensitivity’ and will be speaking on this topic at TEDx Wexford on 11 August 2022. Val spent many years in Southern Africa, where she worked as a teacher, principal and trainer in Education. She and her husband now live in the place her heart calls home, in their traditional Irish cottage in North County Cork, Ireland.

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