Why we need buckets full of self-esteem

Self-esteem has become one of those words that we throw around frequently, but do we really recognise the impact of self-esteem in our child’s life?

Do we see the impact of self-esteem on children’s lives?

Or perhaps you’ve started to look at your child in comparison to their peers and begun to worry about how they are feeling about themselves?

Self-esteem is the value we place on our own worth. It is the opinion we have of ourselves. The way we view our worth in the world. It can be positive or negative, and the level of our self-esteem impacts the way that we see the world and the events that occur in our lives.

Many years ago, someone told me the story of the bucket of self-esteem… it goes something like this


When they are born, every child is born with a bucket

For their first years on this earth, everything they do it reaped with praise, which enters their bucket

When they learn to crawl we encourage and thrill at their achievements

Every step they take they are told how clever they are

As they learn to feed themselves we cheer at their skill

Their first words mesmerise us

Their first drawings we pin to the fridge and celebrate

Their first written words are received with adulation

Sports days, new skills, talents… each basked in praise and added to our buckets…

But then….

We get older…

The praise is slowly sandwiched with critical feedback

Make your writing neater

Read more

Work harder

Be quieter

Sit stiller

Be more focused

Get better grades

Target grades – achievement grades – predicted grades

Day after day of receipt of feedback that we ‘could do better’

And with each day a piece of self-esteem from our bucket is removed..

And depending on how much our self-esteem bucket is protected – with activities, connections and relationships that leave us feeling good about ourselves, depends on how much self-esteem remains in our bucket when the world is finished with us

So, we have to ask ourselves…

How much is left in my bucket?

How much is in my child’s bucket?



Further help 

For more articles about mental health visit – ARTICLES 

To learn more about child and adolescent mental health visit – COURSES 

For resources to support child and adolescent mental health visit –RESOURCES 


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