August 4, 2014

Low self-esteem in children

 Ichild-lowselfesteem-vancouver-counsellingf your child is suffering from low self-esteem, it will be possible to see it in their behaviour. The following signs are things to look out for in how they relate to the world on a daily, or even occasional basis. If you recognize a pattern, you may need to get support for you and your child



  • Your child avoids tasks or challenges without making an attempt. This could signal a fear of failure or a sense of helplessness.
  • He gives up at the first sign of frustration, quitting soon after beginning. This could signal a lack of belief he can tolerate the challenge.
  • She cheats or lies when she believes she may not win a game or she may do poorly. This, again, may signal the inability to tolerate the challenge.
  • He shows signs of regression, acting babylike or very silly. This is an in instinctive appeasing behaviour when a challenge becomes overwhelming.
  • He becomes controlling, bossy, or inflexible as ways of hiding feelings of inadequacy, frustration, or powerlessness.
  • She makes excuses (“The teacher is dumb”) or downplays the importance of events (“I don’t really like that game anyway”), uses this kind of rationalizing to place blame on others or external forces.
  • His grades in school have declined, or he has lost interest in usual activities.
  • He withdraws socially, losing or having less contact with friends.
  • She experiences changing moods, exhibiting sadness, crying, angry outbursts, frustration, or quietness.
  • He makes self-critical comments, such as “I never do anything right,” “Nobody likes me,” “I’m ugly,” “It’s my fault,” or “Everyone is smarter than I am.”
  • She has difficulty accepting either praise or criticism.
  • He becomes overly concerned or sensitive about other people’s opinions of him.
  • She seems to be strongly affected by negative peer influence, adopting attitudes and behaviors like a disdain for school, cutting classes, acting disrespectfully, shoplifting, or experimenting with tobacco, alcohol, or drugs.
  • He is either overly helpful or never helpful at home.
  • (from: healthy children . org)

If you recognize a pattern of behaviours similar to these, your child may be suffering from low self-esteem.

To help your child, you may need to change your own behaviour as well. Be aware of the messages you’re sending your child in the language you choose. Do you say things like, “way to go Einstein” when they make a mistake? Or, “what’s wrong with you?”. Statements that are negative in tone can be damaging to how a child perceives themselves. Do you spend enough positive time with your kids or are you stressed and overworked? Do you know what your child’s challenges are at school? with friends?

TIP: Parents who want to help their children have greater self-esteem can: listen to their children, rather than cutting them off, or becoming distracted by other things; speak supportively rather than negatively; manage their own stress and emotions maturely in order to model appropriate coping skills, and in order to manage the energy they have for their kids; provide positive opportunities for the growth and development of their child (team, hobbies); and show that they want to spend time with their kids.