10 Ways to Help Children with Low Self-Esteem

Kids and Self Esteem

All children are different and unique in their own ways, but one thing that all children have in common is the need for love and acceptance. When a child feels like they are not good enough, it can be difficult for them to succeed in life.

Many of our kids have lots of struggles. Many times our kids feel like they are the only ones in a classroom who is struggling to learn. While that is not usually the case, it feels that way to them and can affect their self esteem.

happy kid

But, not all is lost. In this article, we will discuss the signs of low self-esteem in children, some possible causes and a detailed list of ways to help them boost their confidence.

How do I know if my child has low self-esteem?

When it comes to self-esteem, all kids are different. Some kids are naturally more confident and outgoing, while others may seem a bit more shy or reserved. However, parents who are worried about their child’s low self-esteem can look out for a few key signs that suggest a lack of confidence.

One of the most common signs is a decrease in overall happiness and an increase in negative thoughts and behaviors. In particular, you may notice that your child expresses feelings of sadness, anxiety, or loneliness more frequently than usual. Additionally, they may start to withdraw from social situations or avoid interacting with others altogether.

daily affirmation for kids free pdf
Click this image to get your printable daily affirmations for kids.

Other warning signs include changes in behavior or interests; for example, if your child always loved sports but suddenly loses interest in playing, this could be a sign that they are struggling with low self-esteem.

Examples of Low Self Esteem in Kids

  • Your child is always putting themselves down or making negative comments about themselves
  • They seem withdrawn and prefer to stay in the background rather than participate
  • They lack confidence when trying new things or speaking up in front of others
  • They are very sensitive to criticism and easily discouraged
  • They have trouble making and keeping friends
  • They need constant reassurance from you or others

Being mindful of these potential warning signs can help you determine whether or not your child needs additional support in building healthy self-esteem. If you suspect that your child may have low self-esteem, it is important to talk to him or her and seek help from a mental health professional if necessary.

What causes low self-esteem in children?

Low self-esteem is feeling not good enough or unworthy. It’s normal for children to have low self-esteem at certain points in their lives, like when starting school or during puberty. But for some children, low self-esteem becomes a more permanent way of thinking.

There are many possible causes of low self-esteem in children. In some cases, it may be due to a traumatic experience, such as bullying, abuse, or the loss of a loved one. Other times, it may be the result of chronic stressors like poverty or even just having really high standards that are hard to meet.

child smiling because he visited the dentist

Additionally, children who struggle with learning disabilities or other health conditions may also be more likely to develop low self-esteem.

In many cases, low self-esteem is the result of a combination of factors. For example, a child who is teased at school and then comes home to an unstable family life may have trouble developing healthy confidence and self-esteem.

Common Causes of Low Self-Esteem in Children

Honestly, this list can be a real gut punch. Many of our kids experience many of these, repeatedly.

  • Experiencing trauma or difficult life events
  • Having parents or caregivers who are critical, negative, or dismissive of them
  • Having a chronic illness or disability
  • Being teased or bullied by peers, either in person or online
  • Struggling with school or academics
  • Living in a chaotic or unstable home environment
  • Having perfectionistic tendencies
  • Experiencing repeated failure or feeling like they can never measure up

No matter what the cause(s) may be, it is important to remember that you can help your child build healthy self-esteem.

How Can I Help my Child with Low Self-Esteem?

If you think your child may be struggling with low self-esteem, there are a number of things you can do to help.

All children have strengths and things they’re good at – it’s just a matter of helping them realize and build on those things.

10 Ways to Help Children with Low Self-Esteem

Praise efforts, not results. When it comes to raising children, praise is essential to helping them learn and achieve their best. Praising efforts rather than results can help children develop good work habits, embrace challenges, and learn more effectively. For example, if a child receives praise for working hard, even if his or her results aren’t perfect, they will be more likely to keep putting in the effort.

This teaches resilience and helps to build their confidence and self-esteem. Additionally, focusing on efforts instead of outcomes encourages kids to try new things and approach tasks with a growth mindset. They know that mistakes are an opportunity for learning rather than a sign of failure.

Ultimately, praising efforts rather than results in children promotes greater learning, independence, motivation, and self-confidence. So the next time your child succeeds at something big or small, be sure to celebrate those efforts and recognize how much they have accomplished. Lord knows our kids put in a lot of effort!

Focus on a growth mindset. A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed with effort and practice. People with a growth mindset see mistakes as learning opportunities, whereas people with a fixed mindset see them as failures. Why is it important to focus on a growth mindset in children?

First, children with a growth mindset are more likely to persevere in the face of difficulties. They don’t give up when things get tough because they believe that they can improve with practice.

Second, children with a growth mindset are more open to feedback. They see feedback as helpful information that they can use to get better, rather than as criticism.

Third, children with a growth mindset have higher self-esteem. They don’t base their self-worth on their intelligence or ability levels; instead, they know that their efforts can make a difference. Fostering a growth mindset in children can help them to overcome setbacks, learn from their mistakes, and view themselves in a positive light.

Encourage positive self-talk. Just as our thoughts can influence our moods and behaviors, the words we say to ourselves can also have a significant impact on our self-esteem. That’s why it’s so important to encourage positive self-talk in children.

A lot of what we tell ourselves on a daily basis shapes our outlook on life and how we act. If we tell ourselves that we’re not good enough or that we’ll never achieve our dreams, then we start to believe it. I have some printable daily affirmations that are a simple way for kids to do this.

Children with low self-esteem often have a negative inner dialogue, which can lead to a spiral of negative thinking and behaviors. On the other hand, when we encourage ourselves and build ourselves up, it’s amazing what we can accomplish.

When you encourage positive self-talk, you help your children to challenge and reframe their negative thoughts. When children believe in themselves, they’re more likely to take risks, try new things and persevere when faced with setbacks.

By teaching them to talk to themselves in a kind and supportive way, we can help them build their self-esteem and confidence. In turn, this can lead to happier and more successful lives. So the next time you hear a child putting themselves down, take a moment to encourage them to speak kindly to themselves. You may just be making a world of difference.

Help them identify and build on their strengths. One of the best ways to boost self-esteem is to help children identify and build on their strengths. When children know what they’re good at, they feel more confident and capable. They also start to see themselves in a positive light, which can be very empowering. Identifying strengths can be a challenge for some children, especially if they have low self-esteem.

They may not even realize that they have certain strengths or talents. As a parent or caregiver, you can help them to explore their interests and identify their unique gifts. Once they know what their strengths are, you can encourage them to use them more often. For example, if your child is good at art, you might suggest that they join an after-school art class or have regular arts and crafts sessions with them at home.

If they’re good at sports, you might encourage them to join a sports team. Or if they’re good at problem-solving, you might challenge them to help you solve a difficult puzzle. By using their strengths more often, children can start to feel more confident and competent. And as their self-esteem grows, they’ll be better equipped to tackle life’s challenges.

Set realistic goals and celebrate milestones. Another great way to boost self-esteem is to set realistic goals and celebrate milestones. When children feel like they’re making progress and achieving their goals, it’s a huge confidence booster. It gives them a sense of accomplishment and makes them feel proud of themselves. It’s important to set realistic goals so that children don’t get discouraged if they don’t achieve them right away.

For example, if your child is struggling with math, a realistic goal might be to understand one small math concept. If they’re having trouble making friends, a realistic goal might be to choose one club or activity in a preferred area of interest.

Whatever the goal may be, make sure to celebrate each milestone along the way. This can be as simple as giving them a high five or telling them how proud you are of them. You could also give them a special treat or take them out for ice cream. Whatever you do, just make sure that you acknowledge their efforts and let them know that they’re doing great.

Limit screen time and encourage face-to-face interactions. In today’s digital world, it’s easy for children to spend hours in front of a screen. While there’s nothing wrong with using technology, too much screen time can be detrimental to self-esteem. That’s because children who spend too much time on devices are missing out on important face-to-face interactions. Face-to-face interactions are crucial for building self-esteem and confidence.

When we interact with others, we get feedback that helps us to see ourselves more clearly. We also have the opportunity to practice and learn how to relate to others. So make sure that you limit your child’s screen time and encourage them to interact with people in person. Virtual meetups are a great way to get started, but make sure that the activities grow into face to face time.

You could take them to the park or to a museum. You could also sign them up for a class or sport where they’ll have the opportunity to meet new people and interact with them on a regular basis.

Be a role model for healthy self-esteem. As parents and caregivers, we play a big role in shaping our children’s self-esteem. One of the best ways to help children develop healthy self-esteem is to model it ourselves. When we have a positive attitude and high self-esteem, our children are more likely to as well. On the other hand, if we’re constantly putting ourselves down or speaking negatively about ourselves, our children will start to believe that these things are true about them as well.

That’s why it’s so important to be mindful of the way we speak about ourselves. We should also take care to avoid comparing ourselves (and our children) to others. This requires that we be intentional in everything we say in front of our kids. Admittedly, that’s a lot of work.

But, if you examine even the littlest of biases we have, they can be a huge impact. For example, ladies–how many of you comment about eating dessert and your own body? That can impact body acceptance and body positivity.

child looking in a mirror

Instead, focus on building yourself up and celebrating your accomplishments—no matter how small they may be. When you do this, you’re not only helping yourself to feel good, but you’re also teaching your children that it’s okay to feel good about themselves too.

Help them develop coping skills. Children with low self-esteem often have a hard time dealing with failure or setbacks. They might see any mistake as a sign that they’re not good enough and give up easily when things get tough. One way to help children build their self-esteem is to teach them how to cope with failure in a healthy way.

This means showing them that it’s okay to make mistakes and that everyone experiences setbacks from time to time. It also means teaching them how to deal with their emotions in a constructive way. For example, you might encourage your child to express their feelings through writing, drawing or music.

You could also teach them some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. These coping skills can help children to feel more in control and better equipped to deal with life’s challenges.

Encourage positive relationships. The relationships we have with others can have a big impact on our self-esteem. That’s why it’s so important to encourage positive relationships in our children’s lives.

When children have supportive and caring relationships, they feel valued and appreciated. This helps them to see themselves in a positive light and boosts their self-esteem. On the other hand, when children have negative or toxic relationships, it can damage their confidence so, it’s important to encourage your child to spend time with people who make them feel good about themselves.

This might include friends, family members, teachers or coaches. You can also help your child to develop positive relationships by being a supportive and caring parent or caregiver yourself.

Teach them how to set boundaries. One of the best ways to protect our children’s self-esteem is to teach them how to set boundaries. When children know how to set healthy boundaries, they’re less likely to let others take advantage of them or treat them poorly. Boundaries also help children to feel more in control of their lives. This can be particularly helpful for children who have low self-esteem as they often feel like they have no control over their lives.

There are a few things you can do to help your child set boundaries. First, teach them about assertiveness and how to say “no” in a respectful way. You can also role-play different situations with them so that they can practice setting boundaries.

Self Esteem and Kids

Low self-esteem can be a big problem for children. It can impact their mental and emotional well-being, as well as their relationships and performance at school. They may make poor choices in order to feel accepted or to self medicate.

Luckily, there are several things we can do to help.

By modeling healthy behavior, teaching coping skills, and encouraging positive self-talk, we can give our children the tools they need to develop strong self-esteem and lead happy and successful lives.

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