Self-Esteem Versus Self-Worth

Is there a difference between self-esteem and self-worth? You bet there is! Most people use these two interchangeably, yet they are hugely different. We usually speak more about self-esteem, and the importance of making sure our children feel good about themselves, than we do self-worth. If you’ve never thought about this, you might be asking, what is the difference?

Self-worth is about being, or who we are; while self-esteem is about doing, or what we do.


Self-worth is a core belief in myself. It doesn’t change and is much deeper than self-esteem. The beginnings of self-worth are rooted in… are you ready for this… our experiences in childhood. During the first year of life, a baby learns if they cry, and someone listens to that cry and meets their needs, they feel important. A stronger self emerges. This means pressure, dear parents, to get this right during the formative years!

This confirms that the parent-child relationship is extremely important! Later on, peers become the primary influence, which is all the more reason for us to be intentional early on. We surely want them to be more influenced by us than their peers. Agree?

We are able to make statements like this, if we have a strong sense of self:

I am of value, simply because God created me.
I believe in myself.
I am loveable.
I am capable.
I can make a difference.
I am enough.
I am competent, even when I mess up.

Self-esteem is what I think, feel and believe about myself. It can change in a moment and is dependent on our accomplishments and performances. See if this resonates. You are feeling fairly confident about your parenting abilities until your parents and in-laws give you their unsolicited opinion about how they think you should be parenting. Wham! In a flash, you feel totally inept and begin to second-guess yourself.

How to foster your child’s healthy self-worth:

  • Respect their feelings and opinions
  • Encourage them
  • Let them fail
  • Let them make decisions whenever possible
  • Love them unconditionally

We want to be the biggest encourager they have ever encountered! This means giving them kudos from time to time. Saying things like “good work” is better than no praise, but what is most important is giving them credit for the process, “you knew just how to manage your time so you would be finished with your project by the due date.”

Kids need to fail, and we need to allow it. As hard as this is to watch, be reminded failure contributes to a healthy sense of self.

They need to be adept at problem solving, so let them make decisions whenever possible. This means to refrain from telling them what to do, or how to do it. The message this sends to them is you have confidence in their ability to come up with the solution that’s right for them. Talk about a confidence booster!

Respect them enough to let them share their views and opinions even though they might be different from yours. Ask them what their thoughts are on certain things. This is particularly true with teens.

Give them your time and undivided attention in some way each day. You don’t need to spend money to do this. Play with your young children, go get a coke with your teen or spend one-on-one time together before bed.

We know the way we feel about ourselves affects the way we live our lives – specifically, how we act, how we treat others and even the decisions we make. All the more reason to be mindful about helping our children embrace the fact that they matter!

There’s Always Hope,





Need more help? Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?” While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services. Click Here to learn more.

Revealing the Truth About Spanking

Let’s cut straight to the chase. Please, don’t do it! Period. That could be the end of this newsletter, but let’s go on.

Spanking is probably one of the most hotly debated topics of parenting and one where we might just have to agree to disagree. I can’t argue with parents when they sit in my office and tell me “well it worked on me.” I agree withSpanking doesn’t provide the long-term results you desire. them, because it probably did work — for the moment anyway. Children usually straighten up after a spanking because they are fearful of us and they are in physical pain. Emotionally, they are sad, embarrassed and angry. But, this kind of change in their behavior is not for the long term. Most importantly though, because of the hitting, there is a disconnect in the parent-child relationship. When that connection is gone, we’ve got problems.

Parents also say to me “my parents spanked me and I turned out just fine.” I agree with that too, because they probably are ok. Then, I ask them

if they hadn’t been spanked, do they think they would be less likely to spank their kids? Did they feel close to their parents after they were spanked? Did they trust their parents and feel safe enough to go to them with important matters. And then, I want to know how they remember feeling after they got a spanking. I also want to know if it made them feel like cooperating or rebelling.

With a steady diet of this negative way of parenting, children can become:

  • Defiant
  • Revengeful
  • Rebellious

One mother was in disbelief when her child told her that he liked to make her mad. He was paying her back. For what?  He was so angry with her because of the way she punished him. By the way, yelling, threatening and spanking were her preferred ways to try and manage him.  

Spanking relieves parents of their stress since they usually wait to spank until they’re at the end of their rope. That is unfair to take their frustration out on their kids in this way. Before most parents spank, they usually feel out of control. Nothing they are doing is working and they are furious. Spanking allows them to exert power over their kids and feel more in control.

A child’s self-worth is usually negatively affected when they are hit.  Who could feel good about themselves after a spanking? If you were paddled as a child, stop for a minute and try to remember how you felt about yourself after the fact.

Aggression begets aggression. Expect that if we hit our kids, they are likely to hit when they feel angry too. Is this the lesson we want to teach them?

The parent-child relationship is hurt when we hit our kids. This is the most detrimental repercussion from spanking. Keep in mind that this is the most important relationship in their life and how conflictual it is for them to feel close and loving to someone that is hurting them. Hitting devalues this precious relationship. When kids experience a disconnect from their parents,  they are resentful, fearful and distrustful and much less likely to be cooperative and do the right thing.

When we spank, we miss an opportunity to teach our kids how we expect them to behave. They’re in trouble for something, we smack them, yell at them and send them to their room and it’s over. The next time, instead of deciding to spank when they are misbehaving, stop yourself and ask how you can use the misbehavior as a teaching opportunity.

Warning. This does require more patience on your part.

Spanking does not work and the research is clear. Some of the long-term effects of regular spanking can lead to depression and anxiety. If you’re interested in the research, Elizabeth Gershoff, Ph.D. at UT, and Catherine Taylor, Ph.D. at Tulane, cite some of the latest findings in their research.

Honestly, there are two things all spankers say to me.

  • They don’t want to do it and never thought they would
  • They don’t feel good about themselves after they do it

No matter how you might try to justify it, spanking is not the answer. The opposite of that is loving guidance reinforced by a strong parent-child relationship. Carefully reconsider if you are a spanker.

There’s Always Hope,





Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more!