There are two sources of self-esteem: an outer and an inner source. The outer source of self-esteem develops through children's perceived reflections of how their parents esteem and value them. Outer self-esteem is enhanced when parents communicate through their words and deeds that their children are worthy and loved. Parents'arbitrary praise given unconditionally initially promotes the development of healthy, outer self-esteem. Inner self-esteem, which has been overlooked in self-esteem literature, is the second and equally, if not more, important component of self-esteem. As children get older, parents, children themselves, and others base their evaluations and approval of children on their actual competencies and skills. Self-esteem then can no longer be supported by positive evaluations arbitrarily bestowed on them by parents; it must be earned. Thus, children need to develop inner self- esteem by developing socially valued skills, behaviors, and attitudes and integrate self-evaluations with others' evaluations of them.
Parents can help their children develop competencies that will enable them to have high inner self-esteem in physical, social, academic, and moral domains. Each developmental level requires cultivating different skills and ways of behaving. During infancy, for example, foundations for developing inner self-esteem are laid when infants and parents develop strong physical bonds of attachment and when parents foster children's feelings of trust and encourage their infants to develop a sense of self as a distinct, separate, causal agent. During early childhood, parents can enhance children's inner self-esteem by helping them acquire independent ways of behaving, become more self-sufficient, and reason and behave in morally competent ways.
Children in middle childhood need to develop social competencies (getting along with others) and academic skills (doing well in school),