How do I know if my child has low self-esteem?

Self-esteem is how someone feels about themself. When we feel good about ourselves, it helps us to feel confident around other people and by ourselves. Children with good self-esteem find it easier to adapt to change, are more likely to try new things and can ask for help when they need it.

When someone has low self-esteem, they’re more likely to think negatively about their abilities and worth. The more they have these thoughts, the harder it is to feel happy about themselves.



Signs of low self-esteem

Signs someone has low self-esteem can include:

  • Comparing themselves to others.
  • Blaming themselves for things.
  • Persistent fear of failure.
  • Trying to please others.
  • Getting defensive when they feel criticised.
  • Avoiding certain situations.
  • Neglecting or even abusing harming themselves.

Why your child might have low self-esteem

There’s no single cause for low self-esteem. Children can have low self-esteem for many reasons and the things that happen in their life and the people around them can all play a part. Your child might have low self-esteem due to:

  • Feeling like they don’t fit in or having poor body image.
  • People criticising them, putting them down or even bullying them.
  • Comparing themselves to what they see on social media.
  • Unhealthy friendships or relationships.
  • Changes at home such as a separation or a bereavement.

It can be upsetting if you think your child has low self-esteem, but there are ways you can support your child to improve their self-esteem.

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This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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