No one really knows for sure how we develop self-respect, but the experts believe it begins at a very early age. Parents who show their children that they love them unconditionally — just because they are who they are — build a foundation of healthy self-respect that will sustain the children for the rest of their lives. From this foundation comes the moral and ethical structure known as character. Healthy self-respect should not be confused with egotism. An egotist loves himself for the most superficial of reasons, while a self-respecting person takes pride in qualities of character that he or she has worked hard to develop.