Self-esteem is essentially what we think about ourselves.
At times we judge ourselves and this may lead to a positive evaluation where we feel good about ourselves for a period of time; and other times we may judge ourselves negatively, and wind up feeling bad. There are also times where we aren’t judging ourselves at all, and are instead living mindfully in the moment.
Children with low self-esteem tend to present with: anxiety; irritability; more somatic complaints; feeling uncomfortable around other people; giving up more easily; worrying about new experiences; being more easily influenced by peer pressure; and having difficulty recognising their positives.
Children with a healthy self-esteem tend to present with: confidence; a willingness to try new things; perseverance; less fluctuations with moods; appear more content, outgoing and independent; and can recognise their positives.
What Causes Low Self-Esteem?
There are a range of factors which can impact a child’s developing self-esteem, such as:
- Aggressive parenting;
- Parental conflict;
- Dismissing a child rather than validating and nurturing them;
- Lack of parental praise, empathy and interest in the child;
- Neglect or abuse;
- Social difficulties;
- Academic difficulties;
- Traumatic event/s;
- Society and the media/social media.
Tips for Parents
Parents often ask me, how they can help to build their child’s self-esteem. I usually suggest that parents:
- Understand the importance of the impact their relationship with their child, has on the development of self-esteem;
- Encourage positive self-concept through role modelling;
- Learn to help the child develop good social and communication skills;
- Learn to assist their child to judge themselves fairly and accurately;
- Learn to help their child develop the confidence to manage their own feelings, such as anger and worry;
- Provide consistent discipline and boundaries for their child, as this will create an optimal environment for learning and development (please refer to my page on 123 Magic for an effective discipline strategy).
- Provide positive praise to encourage appropriate behaviour;
- Learn how to parent with empathy and validation, rather than dismissing and ignoring their child;
- Learn how to listen effectively;
- Set age appropriate and realistic expectations (ie don’t encourage the child to strive for perfection as it doesn’t exist);
- Learn how to help their child solve problems and set goals for themselves;
- Stay connected with their child;
- Place limits on contact with social media and the internet, and provide education regarding what they see on television (ie fiction versus real life). Children may compare themselves to others and this can often negatively impact their self-esteem.
A Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychologist can help children with low self-esteem build a healthy outlook of themselves by addressing the following:
- Confident body language;
- Effective social and communication skills;
- Dealing with bullying;
- Learning to cope with uncomfortable feelings, rather than using avoidance or distraction techniques;
- Prescribing fun activities;
- Giving to others and being helpful;
- Learning the importance of accepting help rather than going it alone;
- Trying new things;
- Accepting constructive feedback and moving forward rather than dwelling on it;
- Understanding the danger of striving for perfection and learning to set realistic goals and expectations;
- Understanding the importance of willingness to experience uncomfortable feelings in order to achieve your goals.
If you feel your child is struggling with their self-esteem and it is impacting on their social, emotional or academic functioning, please make an appointment with me to begin psychological treatment. Fostering a healthy self-esteem in children can set your child up to live a meaningful life, involving healthy and satisfying relationships, achieving academically and in all aspects of their life.
Leia primary focus is on clinical child and adolescent psychology, although she can treat individuals and couples of all ages. She has training and experience in a variety of evidence based treatment approaches.
To make an appointment with Clinical Psychologist Leia Redman try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.
Phelan, T. W. (1996). Self-Esteem Revolutions in Children: Understanding and Managing the Critical Transitions in Your Child’s Life. Illinois: Child Management Inc.