Self-Esteem Builders: 14 Ways to Tell Your Kids How Much You Care

Words really do have power...and positive language is  the most powerful of all.

Kind and loving words are critical to help every child build self-esteem and confidence, but for some children, heartwarming and positive language seems to feed their very souls. Luckily, saying kind things also happens to be pretty easy (words are free after all, and it takes less than a second to say “I love you”).

Here are 14 simple ways to let your child know how special she is—and how much he is loved:

1. When you pick her up from school, tell her how glad you are to see her.

2. Over dinner, make a point of telling him how much you missed his laugh while you were at work.

3. Use pet names. No matter how silly pet names sound (Jillsy-Willsy, Jackalope, Miss Peachy Pop), they let a young child know that she has a super special place in your life.

4. Put a smile on his face first thing in the morning by waking him up with funny terms of endearment, like “Good morning, glorious sunshine! Hello, my honey muffin sugar plum!”

5. When you notice your child doing something kind or selfless, praise him for it. “I love the way you just shared that coloring book with your brother. That was so kind!”

6. Be your child’s unabashed cheerleader, no matter the situation. “Of all the girls in the whole wide world, you are the very best one for me! I am one lucky dad!”

7. Write your child love notes—and get creative by leaving them in different spots to try to surprise her! Draw a heart on a sticky note and put it on her bathroom mirror, write a few X’s and O’s on a small piece of paper and slip it into her coat pocket, or write a surprise message in chalk on the driveway for her to discover in the morning.

8. Let him overhear you saying nice things about him to other people.

9. At bedtime (or really anytime when it’s quiet and the two of you are snuggled up together), tell your child the things that you like about her. “Can I tell you something I really love about you? You are a caring person with a kind heart. I love how you love a good story, because I love reading books with you.”

10. Read storybooks about love together. Here are some of our favorites: Guess How Much I Love You; No Matter What; I Love You, Stinky Face; I Love You the Purplest; and Love You Forever.

11. Make up a song for your child—and sing it to her often. You can use a familiar tune and create your own words, or simply choose a classic oldie (but a goody) like “You Are My Sunshine,” “What a Wonderful World,” or “You’ve Got a Friend.”

12. Write a poem for your child and read it out loud. (Kids especially love silly poems!)

13. Record a loving message to your child on your smartphone and play it for her at the end of the day.

14. Bookend your days with love. In the morning, tell him you love him before you head out the door and tell him again at bedtime before you turn off the light.

Meet Kim and Ann.

Certified Parent Educators and Super Moms Kim DeMarchi and Ann DeWitt share a love for helping families create deeper connections, foster respect, and (of course) have a heckuva lot of fun. (Fun and laughter are key ingredients in family life, they’ll both tell you!) DeMarchi holds a Master of Education; DeWitt earned her Master in Clinical Psychology. They’ve been penning Positive Parenting articles for KinderCare’s wonderful families since 2015. Find them online at and

Read more articles by Kim and Ann.

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