a child with a low self-esteem feeling sad.

As a parent, one of the things you want to do is help your child raise their self-esteem. Children are naturally very socially and noticing a child with a low self-esteem issue is quite easy. A child with low self-esteem may not socialize well with his/her age mates and when they do socialize, they tend to exhibit a lack of confidence.

Self-esteem is how you see and feel about yourself.

What is low self-esteem in a child?

Self-esteem in children is the perception they have about themselves. When a child looks in the mirror, the feelings they have about themselves is what’s termed as self-esteem. It comprises their thoughts, feelings, and inner beliefs. A child with self-esteem tends to feel confident, capable and accepted for who they are. This is important as self-esteem helps a child’s mental growth as they try new things and do their best.

Despite what many believe, self-esteem in a child is not tied to some of the things you would associate with self-esteem. These may be things such as accomplishments, compliments that your child gets from others, or the approval of other children. It’s not about that!

Self-esteem is tied to seeing oneself taking on challenging things and doing hard things.

The interesting thing about this is that it’s not tied to the outcomes, rather, to taking the challenge. In other words, if your child takes on a challenging task and fails, the initial step of taking the problem will raise their self-esteem. The final outcome of the challenging task has nothing to do with self-esteem. When your child sees themselves running away from a problem, their self-esteem takes a hit. So it’s important to raise your child to take challenges squarely without running away from them.

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Signs of low self-esteem in a child

Since self-esteem in a child is how he/she perceives oneself, you have to be extra careful how you raise your child. There are several mistakes you can make as a parent which will, in the long run, devastatingly affect your child’s self-worth. The following are some signs that your child has low self-esteem:

  • Your child doesn’t like to interact with other children and when they do, they don’t feel confident about themselves.
  • Your child looks down on oneself and feels not worthy to carry out simple daily tasks instead proposes someone else do it as they can do it better. This is caused by self-doubt and not feeling as good as other kids. An example is a child who always complains, “No mom, John can do it better. He did it last time!”
  • A child who is normally envious and jealous may have low self-esteem. When you constantly compare your child to other more accomplished kids, your child will start to admire them. As they struggle to meet up with your expectations, they get angry, envious, and often jealous as you fail to notice their small achievements.
  • A child who desires to be like some other children and always tries to perform better while hating themselves for not being superior like so and so. This can occur when the child wants to dress like other children and even imitates everything about them.
  • Your child thinks of the time they fail rather than when they succeed.
  • They let other children ill-treat and bully them.
  • Have hard times standing for oneself.
  • Gives up easily or not try at all.
  • Your child finds it hard to cope when they make a mistake, lose or fail.
  • Low performance in school.

What Causes low self-esteem in a child?

The development of self-esteem in a child can start during the early years of babyhood. When your child feels loved, safe, and accepted, they develop positively high self-esteem. As your child grows around a positive environment full of unconditional love care and attention, self-esteem grows too.

As a parent, there are things you can do which will devastatingly affect your child’s self-esteem. The following are the causes of low self-esteem in a child:

  • Comparing your child to others and using phrases such as “look how much better he does it than you.” This makes your child feel he’s worse than everyone else. As they grow, this sticks to their brain, emotions, and inner beliefs and they will run away from simple or hard challenges in life.
  • Using negative sentiments or remarks about your child. “You’re lazy!” “You’re stupid!” “You always wet the bed!”
  • Doing everything for your child and not giving them an opportunity to face challenges and overcome them. While helping your child matters, you should let them deal with their own challenges. As they learn new things, monitor their progress and chip in to lend slight assistance or advice.
  • Being a bad role model.
  • Failing to notice and praise your child’s smallest achievements.
  • Not showing love to your child unconditionally and being too harsh or over punishing.
  • Not giving your child time to express their fears and challenges so that you may help. This can be as a result of you expecting perfection from them. A child with a parent who expects perfection may fear to express their challenges and problems.
  • Long time unresolved stress and depression can contribute to low self-esteem. This occurs when you’re not close to your child for example in single parenting.
A child with high self-esteem is confident in facing and solving various challenges.

How to raise high self-esteem in a child

It’s good to know that when your child has low self-esteem, you can raise it up. The following are ways you can raise or maintain a child’s self-esteem:

  • Avoid using harsh words like, “you’re so lazy!” or “you’re stupid!” etc. These negative sentiments are harmful to your child’s self-growth. The more your child hears the negative words about themselves, they learn to slowly give up on their performance. As a result, your child indeed becomes lazy or a fool. Help your child cope with their challenges, including bedwetting. Be there for them and support them emotionally and physically.
  • Help your child do things he feels he’s inadequate in. By constantly encouraging your child to be responsible in doing simple things like dressing, reading, or riding a bike. As you train them to be confident in learning new things, you will increase their self-esteem. To achieve this, train them first and then let them do the task alone. Encourage your child even when they make mistakes while attempting the challenge. Don’t be too hard or expect perfection from them.
  • Encourage your child to make friends and get along both at school and home.
  • Encourage your child to learn new challenging skills such as music, sports, art, cooking, tech skills, etc.
  • Praise your child but do it wisely. Put more emphasis on their efforts, progress, and attitude, and avoid over-praising your child. Reward good behaviors and grades they’ve earned with prizes.
  • Pay keen attention to your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Focus on their strengths more than their weaknesses. As you do this, ensure that you provide environs and opportunities to maximize their strengths.
  • Train your child to be helpful and give. When your child learns that they can offer help or something to others, they learn to value themselves and what they have. This develops their inner belief of self-worth. Encourage your child to train others how to ride a bike, how to swim, etc.
  • Be a good role model by putting effort into everyday tasks or house chores cheerfully. This way, your child learns to put the effort in dealing with their personal challenges with a positive attitude.
  • Give your child time and space. Don’t be too focused on your laptop or tablet and forget to ask your child how their day was. This way, your child can express their fears and challenges and as you encourage them, they learn to be confident around you and everyone.
  • A child going through loss and grief will need special attention and care to minimize the occurrence of stress and depression. When your child lingers for long on depression after a major loss in their life, the self-esteem growth is affected. Learn the five stages of grief and help your child move on with their life after a major loss.


Finally, don’t be overprotective of your child. Let them experience problems and overcome them. Boost their self-esteem by giving them challenges like chores, home works, etc.

Self-esteem in a child develops by taking on challenges. Regardless of the outcome, train your child to see oneself taking on a challenge instead of running away from it. Let the consequences of their outcome teach them how to deal with the challenge the next time. As a parent, provide unconditional love, affection, encouragement, and rewards.

Give your child an opportunity to do the hard thing again and again until they master it.

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