Healthy self-image

12 Ways to Build a Healthy Self-image In Your Child

Written by Adele Keyser

Self-image is the idea you have about your own abilities, appearance and personality.

Self-esteem (how you feel about yourself) and self-image seem to go hand in hand. If someone likes who they are and likes who others perceive them to be, they will probably have higher self-esteem.

The focus of this post is specifically on self-image: how you see yourself – a personal view we have of ourselves.

Self-image includes:

  • What you think you look like.
  • How you see your personality.
  • What kind of person you think you are.
  • What you believe others think of you.
  • How much you like yourself or you think others like you.
  • The status you feel you have.

The above was taken from “What is self-image?”

We can either form a positive or negative view of ourselves based purely by what we see “in the mirror”, which can either be real or a distorted view of who we really are.

This mirror reflects a product of learning through early childhood influences/parents/caregivers. Teachers, friends and family add to the image in the mirror and reinforce what we think and feel about ourselves.

Chopra puts it extremely well: “Do not confuse your image with your self – your self-image is what other people think of you, and yourself (esteem) is what you think of yourself.”

Basically self-image is a result of two main things:

1. Who you really are – outer appearance.
2. The person you see yourself as through the judgement of others.

How do we help our children to develop a healthy self-image?

  • By emphasizing that they are unique and that they should refrain from comparing themselves to others.
  • By encouraging them to acknowledge their positive qualities.
  • By helping them to set goals that are realistic and measurable.
  • By always giving them positive affirmation.
  • By encouraging your child to ask others what their positive qualities are – people who they have a close relationship with, who know them well.
  • By helping them to understand that certain perceptions they have of themselves can be distorted and then explaining why this is.
  • By helping your child to learn to love themselves – it will certainly help to give them positive affirmation.
  • By looking at your child’s strengths and making your child aware of them and how to develop them.  Having knowledge of oneself will help to shift one’s self image in the right direction.
  • By helping your child to change negative thoughts to positive thoughts.
  • Is their view of themselves accurate?  By teaching your child to accept things about themselves that are true and to learn to think of them in a positive way.
  • By reminding your child of compliments they’ve been given.
  • By helping your child not to take criticism negatively but to see it as a constructive way to improve themselves.

Bottom line: Believe in yourself.

Your child needs to understand how important it is to believe in themselves as it affects their behaviour, their thinking and how they relate to others.

What makes us feel good about ourselves?

  • getting regular exercise
  • accepting our bodies – we need to appreciate what we have
  • surprising ourselves by taking on new challenges, stepping out of our comfort zone and not being limited by our confidence
  • accepting that we are unique
  • learning to love ourselves knowing our strengths

Help your child to step out of the box and embrace themselves and life. Remember that self-image is a product of learning, but is not permanently fixed and occurs over a lifetime.

So it is important that we help our child to learn to accept and love themselves.

The Author - Adele Keyser

Adele has 27 years experience in teaching pre-primary, foundation phase, intermediate-senior phase and adult education. That's 27 years experience in dealing with children (and parents!). Currently teaching in Cape Town, her major focus is building classroom environments that foster healthy self-esteem and help children realise what they're capable of.

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  1. Mokgadi Mphakalasi

    Thank you for the insightful information. Very important especially in early adolescence when the kids are most impressionable and are trying to establish their sense of identity.

  2. Josie Lambert

    Thank you! I agree with you that this is very important. As a person who has come a long way in accepting myself, my physical appearance and my personality, I do not want children to repeat my mistakes and think unfairly of themselves. This has a negative impact on self-esteem and mood. I have been telling them since childhood that they are unique, just like every person on the Earth. And through my care, I hope that I can cultivate a normal self-image in them.

  3. Abdunnasar T

    Very informative article about self image. I am interested to know that, whether the economic conditions of the family adversely affect the self image of children? Are there any recent studies on the above subject

  4. John steve


    • Kyle Roets

      I’m really glad to see that you found our article helpful John! 😁

      Please do not hesitate to let us know if there is ever anything that you would like for us to cover in our blog articles.


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