How to Help a Child Deal with Low Self-Esteem

Learn how to help a child deal with low self-esteem in this Howcast video about child anxiety issues.

I want to talk to you about how to help a child with low self-esteem. Low self-esteem means that the child really isn’t feeling so good about themselves, and you want to figure out a way to help them with that. Now, of course, the impulse as a parent is to rush in and say, “You’re great. You’re terrific. I love you, somebody will. Everybody will know that,” and just give them all those things you do to make them feel good from where you stand. But it doesn’t mean that that’s how they feel on the inside. Unfortunately, parents have a tough job. They’re going up against a lot of things that influence their children, from pop culture, from media to their peers, kids have a lot of things influencing how they feel about themselves. And what you want to do is help kids feel good about themselves on the inside, regardless of all these messages that they’re seeing and hearing from the outside, and it’s not easy.

Now, some kids may be just more prone to feeling bad about themselves, or a little more insecure, or a little more anxious or worried in general, and embarrassed. There’s a few things that you can always do to try and help boost your child’s self-esteem or make sure that they have a positive self-image. One is watch your own comments about yourself and about other people. If you’re somebody that’s always competing with the next door neighbor or with those images in the media, your child’s going to pick up on that and think that that’s important. You also don’t want to compare children one to the other or to some standard that really doesn’t fit for them. You want to help them with thoughts that are positive, so give them ideas and ways to puff themselves up and feel better about themselves as opposed to negative thoughts that they may have in their head. So talk to them about things that they can do and say about who they are and what they do and what makes them special. You may want to sit down and make a list with them and talk about, “Why are you kind of important and special?” and “What makes you the kind of friend your friends like?” or “What are you good at in school?” or “What are some of the qualities that make you unique?” and have your child be paying attention to those. You want to also put your child in situations where they will start to feel better about themselves and be doing things and with people that make them feel happy, make them feel strong and confident.

Now the last thing is, there’s no question that at some time in a child’s life things aren’t going to go their way. What you want to do is make sure that they’re prepared and can somehow withstand whatever those difficult times are, those rejecting comments, those negative experiences in their life. So that no matter what goes on on the outside, they can still feel positive about their own qualities on the inside. Make sure you expose your child and your family to all sorts of kinds of people, so that they understand that there’s a range of people and abilities and styles out there, so that they can understand that there’s a tolerance for difference. And also, at times, you’re going to have to make sure that you’re there for your child whether they succeed or they fail, so your child can learn for themselves how to manage both success and failure.