Tips on building a child’s self-worth

Mar 30, 2012

NASW News’ Social Work in the Public Eye: The art of raising responsible children is the subject of an online article by the Huffington Post: “Parents,” which offers parenting tips like basing rewards on achievement, celebrating everyday accomplishments and milestones, and communicating clear expectations.

Ruth Ettenburg Freeman

Social worker Ruth Ettenburg Freeman says in the article that acknowledging small accomplishments can reinforce self-esteem and increase a sense of self-worth in a child. This will, in turn, help them independently make wiser decisions and avoid peer pressure.

“Parents can help by identifying everyday rites of passage and creating family rituals to celebrate them,” Freeman says. “This helps tremendously with kids’ self-worth, with peer pressure, and with keeping them from engaging in risky behaviors.”

The article says families are too caught up in celebrating the game of  “Rites of Passage Monopoly,” where a child automatically receives rewards and privileges for natural occurrences, such as hitting a milestone birthday like age 13.

Freeman, who is the founder of Positive Parenting and the co-founder of the Connecticut Parenting Education Network, offers a recommendation that parents communicate clearly with their children about what they expect in terms of behavior.

Parents also should establish a benchmark that children can work toward in order to earn a privilege, rather than just having it handed to them, Freeman says.

“Parents should set up a system of things that kids need to achieve that will tell everyone — the parents and the kids — that they’re ready for the privilege.”  (

From the March 2012 NASW News.