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Children are still honing their perceptive abilities in order to understand the world around them. It is up to you as a parent to understand what they are going through and guide them through their experiences, be it positive or negative. Helping children with low self-esteem is as important as making sure they eat and drink well or get their vaccinations on time. Low confidence levels can lead to depression, self-hatred, and even suicidal thoughts. This article will help you understand the signs of low self-esteem in children as well as different ways for you to build their confidence.
Why is Self-Esteem in Children so Important?
The development of self-esteem begins very early in children and is intricately linked to the kind of adults they become. Repeated failure can lead to self-esteem issues and a drop in confidence. On the contrary, success tends to instil in them a sense of accomplishment and assurance in their own abilities. However, children need to experience a sense of pride in their accomplishments without feeling like they deserve their victories without any hard work. On the other hand, low self-esteem often prevents kids from being able to handle daily challenges that other children breeze through.
Kids with high self-esteem will naturally find that their confidence bears desired results, which further increases the chances that they will take on more and difficult tasks to prove themselves. Consider it a positive feedback loop: The more secure they feel, the better they do. It is especially important that they are accepted by authority figures like parents and teachers, whose support and encouragement can drive them.
Signs of Low Self-Esteem in Children
Your child reacts to emotional situations with aggressive behaviour or bullying. They do this in order to protect their own feelings of weakness or inadequacy. They usually show aggression towards children weaker than they are, blaming them to avoid dealing with their own lack of confidence.
2. Playing The Fool
Children who act out in the form of clowning or ludicrous behaviour often do so to hide their insecurities. Being silly takes their mind off their troubles, but it never quite works.
3. Giving Up
Kids with low self-esteem doubt their own abilities and get frustrated very easily if they fail at tasks, sometimes after just one attempt. This leads to them quitting point-blank to avoid the humiliation of failure.
With a lack of confidence comes a feeling of powerlessness over their own lives. As a result, they try taking control of the situation usually becoming domineering in the process.
5. Being Careless
Impulsive behaviour is common in children, but overdoing it might be a coping technique, as they might want to complete their task as fast as they can so they don’t have to feel the pressure.
Denial is a common way for children with the low confidence to simply avoid the frustration and suffering that would come if they faced their personal problems head-on. Denial can come in many forms, such as their success at school or maintaining friendships.
Best Ways to Build Confidence in Kids
Here are some ways for improving self esteem in children:
1. Spend Time With Them
This is the most important role. As a parent, it is essential to simply be there for your child. This means spending time with them, even if its something as simple as taking them out for ice-cream, reading them stories, and so on. Children in primary school or younger require your attention even more. Don’t forget to focus on them during this time, as children are perceptive enough to figure out if you are distracted and just want to get the conversation over with.
2. Let Them Choose
Allowing your child the freedom of choice lets them feel in control of their lives. Consider giving them options for their meals, clothes for the day, and so on, but avoid too many choices especially if they are very young. Ensure they are aware of the consequences of their choices as well, so they can make their opinions accordingly.
3. Reassure Them Regularly
Children need to know that they don’t have to be perfect all the time. Try to show compassion and understanding in your reactions to their failures. The more disappointment you show, the harder it hits their confidence levels. This applies to small children as well, such as learning to walk, clothe themselves and so on.
4. Give Them Genuine Praise
Parents who regularly praise their children help them in developing their sense of self-worth. However, it is important to avoid over praising them or showering them with compliments too often as this could result in an inflated ego. Be specific in your praises, for example, instead of simply saying that they did something well, tell them what and how they did it well.
5. Establish Boundaries
While allowing them the freedom to do things at their pace, do set limits and requirements. For example, if it is their job to wash vessels or clean their room on a particular day, insist that they finish their job. Help them understand that not doing their part affects the people around them as well.
6. Do Not Insult Them
It is absolutely never OK to take your anger out on your children. Never abuse them, call them names, insult them in any manner, or downplay their feelings. Remember that you love your child, even if their actions affected you. Negative reinforcement might make them change their ways temporarily, but can devastate their self-esteem.
7. Let Them Figure Things Out
If you do everything for your child, they will never learn to work their problems out for themselves. Clothing your toddler might be more efficient, but it will not improve their motor skills or give them a sense of accomplishment. It might be scary for you, but letting them take risks is the best way for them to deal with new challenges. For instance, allow your child to pour themselves a glass of water even it means they are going to spill half of it. They will know how to face the problem next time.
8. Give Them Responsibilities
Ask them to help out with activities around the house, and make them responsible for those chores. This will make them independent and willing to do things by themselves. This sense of competence is integral to the building self esteem in children as it makes them feel that they contribute something worthwhile.
9. Treat Them Unconditionally
Accept your child for who they are. Hold, kiss, hug them, show them as much affection as possible. Avoid any form of comparison with siblings or friends who perform better at school or athletics. Children need to know that you will be there for them no matter what in order to feel secure about themselves and their abilities.
10. Learn Their Perspectives
Understand that not all children are the same, and no child views the world as you do. If your little one is crying or whining for no reason, it might just be because of your perspective. Kids are affected by different things than adults are, and are certainly more emotionally vulnerable.
11. Develop Your Own Self-Esteem
Before your child can build their own self-esteem, it is important that you are confident in yourself. Parents have to be the first role models as children learn everything from you. If you do your tasks without complaining about it, your child will learn to do the same.
Children with low self-esteem are difficult on themselves. Their insecurities and lack of confidence make them feel like they are not as good or loved as other children. They often focus on their failures more than their accomplishments and blame their own lack of skills or personalities for this. The points described in this article barely skim the surface of what you must do as a caring parent to boost your child’s confidence. Encouragement and support are not just words you can tell your children. It is your actions that count. The job is tough, but a happy and confident child is worth every effort.