The goal of many parents would be for their kids to grow into self-assured individuals who are confident at making their own decisions as they navigate life.
Much of this development occurs during childhood, shaped by their interactions with the people around them and their experiences at home.
If you think your child may have low self-esteem, read on to find out if they are displaying any of these behaviors.
We’ll then dive into possible ways you can help work with them on this.
Negative self-talk is a clear indicator of someone with low self-esteem.
Has your child ever expressed a lack of confidence in their abilities? Perhaps you may have heard them saying “I’m not smart enough” or “I’m not pretty enough.”
You may have noticed that they shy away from various activities. These could include answering questions in class, trying out for a sports team, or playing with other children.
It’s always good to understand why your child feels this way. Is it due to a comment from a friend, teacher, or family member? Or is it due to the entertainment that they consume?
From there, try to address the root cause and give them constant encouragement so they can build up their self-confidence.
Encourage them to complete small, everyday tasks first before introducing more challenging activities, while assuring them that you’re there every step of the way.
2) Easily succumbs to peer pressure.
When a child has poor self-esteem, they’re unlikely to trust themselves to make decisions.
They’re likely to emulate behaviors from friends whom they deem ‘worthy’ to listen to. They may even make decisions based on what their friends think.
Your child may pick up new habits, change the way they dress or behave in ways that are out of the ordinary.
If they’re succumbing to negative peer pressure, try to understand why this is happening and work from there.
Address these issues from a point of concern, rather than an accusatory or judgmental perspective. The last thing you’d want is for them to get defensive and shut off from you.
Even if these are good changes, it’s important for your child to know why they are doing what they’re doing. Is it for the approval of others or because they chose to do it?
3) Seeks approval from others.
Seeking validation from others is another sign of low self-esteem.
They may avoid dressing a certain way just because no one at school is doing so, or because it’s not ‘trendy’, for fear of getting ridiculed.
They may also behave differently around their friends because this is the ‘accepted’ way – even if it means acting in a rude, or obnoxious manner.
It’s one thing to follow trends – which in itself is not harmful – but another to obsess over them, to the point that it affects their self-worth.
With the prevalence of social media, your child may also seek validation from the interactions they receive on their profiles. They may stress over creating and editing content just so they can get more likes on their social media accounts.
Try challenging their idea of what’s the ‘right’ way to do things or dress and emphasize that trends evolve. What’s important is that they stay true to themselves rather than fixating on following everyone else.
Does your child avoid other children or tell you that they have no friends in school? In social settings do they shy away from talking to people?
If so, it could be because they find themselves unworthy of friendships and are more comfortable spending time on their own.
This is different from being introverted or shy. Children who isolate think they are not good enough to be accepted and this prevents them from interacting with others.
Ensure that you create an environment where they feel loved and valued. Take the time to listen to what they have to say and validate their feelings. Let them know that they are worthy of taking up space in other people’s lives and conversations.
As their self-worth increases, they will be more empowered to make new friendships.
5) Doesn’t assert themselves.
Does your child face difficulty with expressing their needs or opinions? Are they overly passive and go along with whatever the other person wants, even if it goes against their preferences?
Having low self-confidence can result in a lack of assertiveness. They are willing to prioritize others before themselves as they don’t feel like they matter.
It’s important to remind them that their opinions matter and that they deserve to be heard. Encourage them to express themselves honestly and directly, but not in an unkind manner.
6) Has difficulty handling criticism.
Some children may not know how to handle criticism in a healthy manner. They may feel devastated and be unwilling to try again, even though they may have just received constructive feedback.
They may start to judge themselves harshly, which prevents them from taking risks or trying out new things. It could also worsen their self-confidence and ability to interact with others. This could also stem from wanting to be perfect.
In this case, try challenging their thought process and their idea of ‘perfection’. Teach them how to show themselves compassion, just as how they would with their friends.
Remind them that it’s okay to make mistakes and that this is all part of growing to become better versions of themselves.
7) Comparing themselves with others.
Nowadays, it’s so easy to compare our lives with another person, especially with the Internet.
Not only do children face this at school, they’re also inundated with the ‘ideal’ lives of people their age whom they’ve never met.
Consider instilling a habit of gratitude. Ask them to take a moment to be grateful for the things in their lives.
Also emphasize that no one knows everyone’s stories; their friends may be donned in the latest fashion but may not be having the best time at home.
The influencer who’s enjoying themselves on holiday may have issues in other areas of their lives.
Then, encourage your children to live life to the fullest as you walk alongside them in this journey.
While parents play a significant role in their child’s development, it’s possible to consider engaging a professional to help. They may be more equipped and knowledgeable to address specific issues.
Overall, creating a safe environment for your child to feel loved and valued is important in instilling self-confidence. It’s also a good way to assure them that you’re always there for them, regardless of the situation they’re in.