Calgary Child Psychologist and Self-Esteem
Self-Esteem in Children and Teens
Self-esteem is the perception an individual has of themselves. If a child frequently speaks of themselves negatively or is frequently self-critical, they may be experiencing difficulties related to their self-esteem. People with high self-esteem tend to be enthusiastic, proactive, feel valuable, and seem comfortable with themselves. During childhood and adolescence, self esteem can be particularly vulnerable. Children may engage in negative self-talk, where they criticize themselves and doubt their abilities or compare themselves to others. When young people experience self-esteem struggles, they may be hesitant to share opinions and make decisions based on their fear of judgment. For youth, new experiences and encounters can be seen as obstacles, which may further decrease their self-esteem.
Studies have also revealed a number of indirect factors that can affect a child's self-esteem, such as academic performance, problem solving skills, and social abilities. Learning how to develop strategies around healthy self-esteem can lead to positive outcomes, such as school success, better relationships, improved coping skills, positive perception by others, and overall wellness. At Creative Sky Psychology, we appreciate every child as their own individual. We encourage children to take responsibility for their lives, choices, and reactions. We support children and teens to become aware of unhelpful thought and behaviour patterns in order to reach their full potential.
Causes of Low Self-Esteem
Contrary to popular belief, praise can be a substantial contributor to low self-esteem. Research suggests that overly positive, inflated praise can set unattainable standards for children and diminish confidence. Low self-esteem in youth may also be the result of bullying, or falling victim to other hostile behaviors. For parents, it's crucial to control negative comments and feedback when talking to your child, as the messages that they hear affect how your child feels about themselves.
What Should I Do If My Child Has Low Self-Esteem?
You may ask yourself how you can help build your child's self-esteem. Since every child is unique, building self-esteem may come easier to some kids than others. Avoid focusing on praising your child. Rather, applaud your child’s effort, progress, and attitudes. Notice what your child is good at and enjoys, and help them develop those skills. Realistically, overpraising will only take away from the things they succeed at and that took real effort. Focusing on their strengths, rather than weaknesses, is key to building their self-esteem. Children's self-esteem improves when they feel that their actions make a difference to others. By involving them in tasks such as helping at home, school projects, or doing favors for siblings, you can help boost their sense of accomplishment.
It is important to spend quality time with your child by playing with them and actively listening to them. Show interest in their activities, projects, and problems, and let them choose the games. Join in on the activities they enjoy. By doing this, children will feel secure and cared for, leading to a boost in self-confidence.
How does social media affect self-esteem in children?
Social media can have negative effects on children's self-esteem. Platforms such as Tiktok, Snapchat, and Instagram can create an environment where children feel pressure to present a curated, idealized version of themselves, leading to feelings of inadequacy or a fear of missing out (FOMO) if they don't measure up to the expectations set by their peers or social media influencers.
Cyberbullying is another negative aspect of social media that parents must remain aware about. This abusive behavior can leave children feeling ostracized, humiliated, or ashamed. This will ultimately decrease their self-esteem and confidence.