The judgments we make about our self-worth begins to take shape early in life as infants form positive or negative workings models of self from their interactions with caregivers. Securely attached children who construct a positive working model of self begin to evaluate themselves more favorably than insecurely attached children whose working models of self are not so positive.
As children become older their self-evaluations become more accurate reflections of how others evaluate their physical, behavioral, academic and social competencies. In adolescence, new dimensions such as romantic appeal and quality of close friendships become important contributors to global self-esteem. Self-esteem often declines during these years as peers influence each other through social comparison. It gradually recovers and increases throughout young adulthood and middle age.
Warm, responsive, democratic parenting appears to foster self-esteem whereas aloof or controlling parenting styles appear to undermine it. Having reasonable limits and sending a message that you trust your child to follow rules and make good decisions is apt to promote higher self-esteem than parents who convey to a child that may not be accepting of his/her inadequacies.