Simply put, self-esteem is how someone feels about themselves. It’s normal for children (and adults) to have lows and highs in their self-esteem as they learn and grow, but persistently low self-esteem can be dangerous. There are also several factors in your child’s life that may lead to low self-esteem, like social media, starting school, bullying, exam pressure, family problems, moving schools or homes, and other changes.
Spotting Low Self-Esteem
The first step in helping your child with any self-esteem issues is to see them. Your child is very unlikely to tell you they have low self-esteem, so you will need to watch out for several different things. Your child may be putting themselves down, especially comparing themselves negatively to others. For example, they may say “I’m so stupid, everyone else in my class did well on that test.” They will also lack confidence, even avoiding new things, experiences, and changes.
Even if they are generally doing well academically, they won’t be proud of themselves, thinking they could have done better. They also can’t deal well with failure, becoming very upset at even small setbacks.
Socially, they might have a poor image of themselves, feeling ugly, bad, or somehow unlikeable. They will also find it hard to make and keep friends, instead feeling like a victim. As a result, they will feel lonely and isolated.
How to Help
- Tell them you love them: The first way you can help your child when they have low self-esteem is to tell them you love them. Reassure them of how special they are and tell them what you like about them. Make sure you let them know what makes them special and wonderful, like their sense of humor, intelligence, or kindness. Spend quality time together doing things they enjoy, like playing their favorite game or doing their favorite craft. This reassurance can be essential in bringing them out of that low self-esteem funk.
- Encourage their efforts: It’s also important to let your child know that their effort is valuable, even if it ends in failure. Children can miss out on things they don’t try out of fear of losing or failing. Let them know that making mistakes is a good part of learning and growing, and everyone fails sometimes. When they try new things or have challenges, whether they do well or not, tell them you appreciate how hard they worked. Trying something new is an accomplishment, and they should feel good about themselves for doing so.
- Support their talents: Make sure you also help them discover their talents. Offering them a lot of different choices and opportunities for new experiences can help build their confidence, especially when they find something they enjoy doing regardless of success. Engaging in a new club or sport can be a fun way for them to explore interests. They can also enroll in after-school enrichment programs like at Genie Academy. Genie Academy is especially helpful for unlocking your child’s confidence, boosting their self-esteem in a variety of areas.
- Acknowledge their feelings: You should also acknowledge your child’s feelings while at the same time gently challenging their negative perceptions. Try to direct them to things they enjoy or are already good at. For example, if they lose a game and say “I’m no good at anything,” you could respond that you understand how they feel that way, but remind them that they are very good at many different things and losing a game doesn’t change that.
Boosting your child’s self-esteem doesn’t have to be hard; doing things they enjoy with them can be fun and rewarding for you. Getting to know your child’s strengths is just as important as catching their weaknesses, and they will be thrilled that you know how great they are.1