How to Recognize and Improve Self-Esteem Issues in Your Child

low self esteemThere are so many things that get lost in translation for children and teens coping with low self-esteem issues – whether it is a parent’s inability to recognize signs of poor self-image issues demonstrated in their children or a misunderstanding in how to channel love and self-worth. Unfortunately, it can become increasingly difficult for parents to spot self-esteem issues in their children, and it is another hurdle completely to try and build high self-esteem once the issues are acknowledged.

Self-esteem is paramount to a child’s future success, and the ability to foster a positive, healthy self-image is extremely vital to the happiness of any child or adult.

But what is self-esteem, and how is it delicately created over the years?

Self esteem is a term we use to describe how we feel about ourselves; it drives how we behave and respond to various situations. The following are just a few expert-identified signs of low self-esteem in children:

  • A demonstrated hopelessness for future success
  • Depression or other mental health conditions
  • Insecurity in relationships and school work
  • Challenges become a source of anxiety
  • A default to make negative statements about themselves
  • Pessimistic and hesitant to try new things
  • Highly critical of themselves

The results of high self-esteem: Another way to determine whether a child has self-esteem issues is by assessing what high or positive self-esteem looks like in children and whether the child adopts these positive qualities. According to the National Mental Health Information Center at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, signs of good self-esteem include:

  • An ability to act independently
  • The demonstrated capacity to cope with both positive and negative emotions
  • The ability to appropriately handle peer pressure
  • The tendency toward creating healthy, secure and honest relationships
  • The likelihood of avoiding eating disorders, depression or other mental health conditions

As a parent, teacher or role model, what can I do to help build a child’s self-esteem?

Parents are especially instrumental in helping to promote their child’s self-esteem. Most loving parents do this without even realizing it through words of affirmation and positive actions to make their son or daughter feel loved. Many younger children with learning and attention difficulties are vulnerable to low self-esteem issues, especially in educational settings where their shortcomings or learning difficulties are exposed, resulting in a lack of confidence.

The National Mental Health Information Center encourages parents to look for opportunities to praise their children when they have done a good job or when they have demonstrated a lot of effort. KidsHealth recommends building a child’s self-esteem through affection and spontaneity, incorporating light-hearted conversation and an environment that cultivates laughter. The National Mental Health Information Center reiterates this concept by encouraging parents to laugh at themselves – showing their children that it is okay to laugh at yourself and to value a sense of humor in a positive way. Above all else, spend some time communicating about what is important. Poor self-image issues cannot improve unless a healthy dialogue happens – help your child reconstruct how he or she feels about self-worth and self-love.

Other intentional steps parents and educators can take to boost self-esteem are:

  • Stop a child when he or she focuses on negative feelings, teaching him or her how to re-think things in a positive light.
  • When children are negative about themselves, point out a positive attribute for every negative attribute they claim about themselves.
  • Remind them how important words are and how damaging it is to carelessly say things like, “I am stupid,” or “I am ugly.” As parents or guardians, firmly let children know that when they say such things about themselves, they are proclaiming something false to be true, believing it more and more every day. Share why this practice is unhelpful or untrue.
  • Help your child foster problem-solving skills, as it can bolster his or her confidence. Give him or her the space to take responsibility and ownership of problems.
  • Seek out professional counseling to help flourish a child’s future.

Safe Harbor Christian Counseling is enthusiastic about helping every child, adult and family come to grips with his or her value and self-worth. The team of counselors and coaches are adamant about promoting a message of empowerment and love, leveraging hope through a biblical framework. If you are a parent struggling to help your child harness his or her self-worth or build positive self-esteem, the team at Safe Harbor invites you to discover the child and adolescent counseling services and adult counseling services. Family therapy and parenting services are available to every individual.

For more information on Safe Harbor’s counseling, coaching and therapy services, visit We invite you to join in on the faith-based dialogue found on our Facebook page and to follow Safe Harbor Christian Counseling on Twitter.


About Safe Harbor Christian Counseling

Safe Harbor Christian Counseling serves local communities by providing Christian-based, clinically sound counseling so that people experience the recovery of their hearts. Our unique approach to marriage counseling, family counseling and individual counseling includes offering an inviting atmosphere whereby a healing relationship is experienced in the counseling room. Safe Harbor consists of 7 partners with over 70 counselors trained in the mental health field.
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