21 Transformational Self-Esteem Quotes for Kids

Written by Dr Lucy Russell DClinPsyc CPsychol AFBPsS
Dr Lucy Russell Founder of They Are The Future
Author: Dr Lucy Russell, Clinical Psychologist

Does your child have low self-esteem? In this article I have chosen chosen a collection self-esteem quotes to give your child a boost.

I have divided the quotes into categories as follows:

  1. Quotes About Becoming Comfortable With Your True Self
  2. Quotes to Read When You Feel Judged By Others
  3. Self-Esteem Quotes on Staying Strong
  4. Optimism and Self-Esteem Quotes
  5. Self-Esteem Quotes for Kids About Facing Setbacks

You can show this article to your child, or pick out your favourite few to share with them.

You could even print out the most inspirational quotes for your child, and put them on the wall!

The best thing about motivational quotes is they can alter the direction of your thought patterns.

They can suddenly make you view yourself – or the whole world – from a completely different angle.

Self Esteem Quotes: Becoming Comfortable With Your True Self

One of the biggest challenges of adolescence – in my opinion – is learning how to be authentic.

True self-esteem is sharing your values, characteristics and beliefs with the world, despite risk of criticism or rejection.

You can be an example to your child by being the best version of your own authentic self. They will learn from seeing you  demonstrating healthy self-esteem.

As author Mark Twain explained, if you are not living your values and beliefs, you will not feel connected to others who are similar to you, and this can feel very isolating.

The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.

Mark Twain

Ralph Waldo Emerson knew only too well that in all cultures, there is constant pressure to look, act and think a certain way.

In our modern world of celebrity and social media, this is amplified even further.

It takes huge courage to go against expectations.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

teen boy thoughtful resilient

If your child does decide to go against the grain and embrace their uniqueness, they will need mental toughness and they will undoubtedly face tough times.

But the pay-off will be worth it!

The legendary singer and songwriter Dolly Parton believes that the only path to high self-esteem is to embrace your differences wholeheartedly.

Find out who you are. And do it on purpose.

Dolly Parton

confidence quotes for kids: find out who you are and do it on purpose - dolly parton

Similarly, the brilliant children’s author Dr Seuss encourages young people not to follow the crowd even if temptation is strong.

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

Dr Seuss

self esteem quote dr seuss: why fit in when you were born to stand out?

Confidence Quotes For Kids: When You Feel Judged By Others

We are all judged by others. It’s impossible to escape it.

But in the teenage years and pre-teen years judgement from others can feel almost constant.

Young people are developing their adult identities and this can make them feel insecure.

Sometimes people try to make themselves feel better by knocking others down or judging them harshly.

The fear of being judged causes many young people to try to be the same as others. They feel that if they can avoid standing out, they won’t be judged negatively.

But as Oprah Winfrey explains, this is not the path to true mental health or a high level of self-confidence.

Self-esteem comes from being able to define the world in your own terms and refusing to abide by the judgments of others.

Oprah Winfrey

The late scholar and activist Maya Angelou also believed that we should try to detach ourselves from comparison with other people, even from a young age:

You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.

Maya Angelou

Self esteem quoye Maya Angelou: You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.

The above quote is one of several in this article that could be used as positive affirmations.

Self-Esteem Quotes vs Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations are beliefs that we hold – or would like to hold – about ourselves, that we repeat to ourselves on a regular basis.

We may have them written down in a prominent place.

Positive affirmations can be said out loud or in our heads. They help us to keep important beliefs or values to the forefront of our minds.

Your favourite self-esteem quotes can become your affirmations!

teen girl high self esteem, serious and confident

Arguably one of the greatest UK prime ministers, Sir Winston Churchill, encouraged us not to shy away from controversy or judgment:

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill Quote: You have enemies? Good.

The great Mahatma Gandhi – who was a beacon of hope for many oppressed people – advocated the vital importance of using our own powers of integrity and dignity against negative judgement.

They cannot take away our self respect if we do not give it to them.

Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi’s quote is quite a complex concept for some children to understand.

I recommend discussing it with your child. What does it mean to them?

What would “refusing to give up our self-respect” look like in their life, and how might it help them?

Always upbeat and always beautifully poetic, I have included a second self-esteem quote from Dr. Seuss because he is so inspirational. This is another quote which would work well as a positive affirmation.

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Dr. Seuss

Dr Seuss quote: Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Self Esteem Quotes About Staying Strong

As you can probably tell, I don’t believe it’s possible to have genuine self confidence without mental strength.

Even if your child feels accepted and supported by those around them, they will have difficult times or a bad day when they well need to find inner resilience and optimism to keep going.

I love this quote from the incredible American author Helen Keller:

Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.

Helen Keller

Helen Keller Look the world straight in the eye self esteem quote

Helen was both blind and deaf. Like many successful people, she remained resolutely determined and steadfast, overcoming everyday barriers to achieve greatness over time.

Eleanor Roosevelt was another great American woman who knew that inner courage and confidence is a beautiful thing.

We can’t control the way others treat us, but we can control the way we respond.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Roald Dahl believed in growth mindset before the phrase was invented.

Whatever characteristics or inner resources we have, we are not stuck.

We can change positively not only in ourselves, but in a way that impacts the world.

Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world.

Roald Dahl, Matilda

Confidence quote Roald Dahl: Somewhere inside all of us

Motivational Quotes For Kids: The Importance of Optimism

Optimism doesn’t come naturally to some kids, especially if they have faced bullying or other challenging life events.

If you have had difficult times in the past, it’s natural to expect more of the same.

But actress Lucille Ball argued that optimism is a skill we can cultivate day by day:

One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore you faith in yourself.

Lucille Ball

Famous late clergyman Norman Vincent Peale conjures up images of the entire universe at our feet with this next self-esteem quote.

I heard this quote as a young child in a school assembly presented by our deputy head teacher, and it has served me very well ever since:

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

Norman Vincent Peale

Norman Vincent Peal self esteem quote: Shoot for the moon

Peale makes us realise that we can achieve amazing things even if our plans don’t come to full fruition.

If you follow the direction of your dreams, who knows where you will end up, but it’s likely to be a positive place!

child swimming, showing determination and self esteem

I have the utmost respect for the wisdom of the Dalai Lama. He has given us so many inspiring self-esteem and confidence quotes, but I like the quote below because it highlights the great potential of harnessing your willpower.

Human potential is the same for all. Your feeling, “I am of no value”, is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself. We all have the power of thought – so what are you lacking? If you have willpower, then you can change anything. It is usually said that you are your own master.

Dalai Lama

Thomas Jefferson had a similar view.

He believed that good things come when you reflect on your mental attitude and ensure it aligns with your values:

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson confidence quote: Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal

Self-Esteem Quotes for Kids: Facing Setbacks

We can’t have positive self-esteem without having resilience too. Resilience means learning to bounce back from setbacks and challenges.

I find the quote below by Albert Einstein one of the most surprising and exciting in this article.

I used to think that he achieved greatness simply through being a genius.

Of course he was incredibly clever, but the key to his success was hard work and persistence:

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

Albert Einstein

self esteem quote albert einstein: stay with problems

Another renowned great scholar, Marie Curie persevered through discrimination and intolerance.

This quote is a nice reminder that we should all expect ups and downs, and prepare to “weather the storm” to achieve happiness or success.

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves.

Marie Curie

child climbing determination self esteem

I also love this self-esteem quote from the great Oscar Wilde, because it reminds us that setbacks and challenges have great value, which we can sometimes only appreciate in hindsight:

What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.

Oscar Wilde

self esteem quote Oscar Wilde: What seems to us as bitter trials

Does your child fear new things?

With this final quote, I hope that your child will reflect on the importance of courage.

By moving a little outside their comfort zone, they will grow as a person, and their self-esteem will be positively affected.

What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?

Vincent van Gogh

Self Esteem and Confidence Quotes For Kids: Further Reading

28 Brilliant Exam Confidence Motivational Quotes for Students

What Are Your Child’s Behavioural And Emotional Strengths?

5 Powerful Teen Self-Esteem Activities {+ Printable Workbook}

Tips For Building Confidence In Teenagers And Children

Parenting Tween Boys

The Power of Journaling: Mental Health Journal Ideas for Children & Teens

Dr Lucy Russell is a UK clinical psychologist who works with children and families. Her work involves both therapeutic support and autism assessments. She is the Clinical Director of Everlief Child Psychology, and also worked in the National Health Service for many years. In 2019 Lucy launched They Are The Future, a support website for parents of school-aged children.

Through TATF Lucy is passionate about giving practical, manageable strategies to parents and children who may otherwise struggle to find the support they need.

Lucy is a mum to two teenage children. She lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, children, rescue dog and three rescue cats. She enjoys caravanning and outdoor living, singing and musical theatre.

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