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How Can Parents and Teachers Help Kids With Low Self-Esteem?

Both parents and teachers play a role in helping their children and students build self-confidence. Learn how to recognise low self-esteem, and find strategies for helping kids overcome it.

Both parents and teachers play a role in helping their children and students build self-confidence. Learn how to recognise low self-esteem, and find strategies for helping kids overcome it.

How Do You Recognise Low Self-Esteem?

In order to help children and teenagers improve their confidence, we must first understand how to recognise the signs of low self-esteem.

  • Is your child self-conscious? Do they avoid going to parties or family/social gatherings or meeting people?
  • Does your child suffer from an inferiority complex over their physical features? For example, do they view themselves as being too short, too tall, too fat or too thin?
  • Is your child falling behind in their studies? Are they receiving poor grades on their exams?
  • Does your child refrain from playing with other children?
  • Is your child being bullied at school or college?
  • Does your child avoid taking part in school activities, such as debates, theatre or cultural programs?

If you notice some of these signs and symptoms, it's possible that your child may be suffering from low self-esteem or a lack of self-confidence. As a responsible parent or teacher, you must take these signs seriously and try to provide support and encouragement. If the issue isn't addressed in its initial stages, it may lead to behavioural problems or other difficulties later on.

If your teen avoids social gatherings and seems to be struggling in school, it could be a symptom of low self-esteem.

If your teen avoids social gatherings and seems to be struggling in school, it could be a symptom of low self-esteem.

7 Causes of Low Self-Confidence in Kids and Teens

Low self-esteem may be rooted in many factors, including the following:

  • A child or teenager's surroundings;
  • Their childhood;
  • Their upbringing;
  • Their relationship with their parents, siblings, teachers, peers, friends and so on;
  • Poor academics;
  • Their physical features, such as their height, weight and general appearance;
  • Sibling rivalry.

The problem has to be identified first, and then—with constant and conscious effort—it can be dealt with. While parents and teachers are some of the best people to help kids with this issue, it's important to remember that professional help is also available and may be useful.

What Does Your Child Struggle With?

How to Help Kids Improve Their Self-Confidence

Some of the factors that cause low self-esteem seem beyond our control, like our height, nose, teeth, complexion and so on. But we can improve how we perceive these aspects of ourselves.

For example, parents can help kids build self-confidence in their physical appearance (after all, the parents probably share many of the same physical features!).

Children continue to develop their personality throughout their lifetime. Parents can help their kids work on the traits that will help them become happy and successful in life. If a child has any kind of inferiority complex, their parents and teachers should offer encouragement and tender care.

Below are several other methods for boosting self-esteem.

Meet People and Make New Friends

  • Find opportunities for the child to meet people. Meeting new people can build a child's confidence, especially people with a positive outlook. Being surrounded by happy, positive people can help kids open up.
  • Encourage the child to make friends. Parents, teachers and even older siblings can offer to help with this. For example, a sibling might accompany a child to a party or picnic for support.
  • Let the child get involved in organising and arranging activities or events. This will increase their interaction with their peers, as well as making them more confident when their event is a success.

Participate in Sports and Exercise

  • Encourage the child to play a sport instead of playing on their computer or phone all day long.
  • Find or create some opportunities for the child to play outside. Outdoor games are always beneficial for kids, both physically and mentally. Physical exertion will help them divert their negative energy into positive energy.
  • Plan time for exercising. Exercise helps kids develop healthy bodies, as well as a more positive outlook on themselves.

Do Constructive Activities

There are numerous constructive activities that kids can participate in, such as arts and crafts, music lessons, drama, school clubs, community clubs, youth groups and many more.

If they create something beautiful or perform a useful service and receive appreciation in return, they'll get a great lift to their self-esteem.

Seek Counselling

In today's world, we turn to Google for answers to any and every question, and it's available 24/7. However, Google doesn't know everything; sometimes we need to seek help from a professional.

There are professional counselling sessions for parents and children in almost every educational institution nowadays. Experts in children's mental health are available at various psychological clinics, as well.

You can explore the options at your child's school and in your community. Research the counsellors who are practicing in your area, if you want to seek out an expert's opinion and suggestions.

Online counselling is another consideration, since it has become increasingly prevalent.

Parents understand their children better than anyone else. They can help by encouraging their kids and paying close attention to their moods.

Parents understand their children better than anyone else. They can help by encouraging their kids and paying close attention to their moods.

How Parents Can Help

Parents have a crucial role in helping children and teenagers who suffer from a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence. Most likely, they understand their child's psychology better than anyone else.

First of all, parents should try to relate to their children in a balanced way, neither criticising them too much nor offering them excessive praise. The following should be avoided:

  • Criticising the child constantly
  • Only talking about the child in a negative way
  • Praising the child excessively
  • Finding faults with the child or their behaviour in front of other people
  • Comparing the child to their siblings or relatives

While too much praise is detrimental, it's very important for parents to encourage their kids, even for small achievements. Encouragement can help a withdrawn child to open up and believe in themselves.

Parents also need to pay thoughtful attention to their kids. Nowadays, everyone is very busy all the time, and it can be unfortunately easy to overlook a child's emotional ups and downs.

Tips for building self esteem in your child, Source: YouTube

How Teachers Can Help

  • Teachers also have a significant role in supporting children who have low self-esteem. For example, a student might be weak in a particular subject, struggle in sports or dislike extracurricular activities.
  • The teacher should understand the student's strengths and weaknesses and should never criticise or humiliate them in front of their classmates if they perform poorly.
  • Instead, the teacher should make an effort to help them improve their performance by talking to them openly and inviting them to discuss the subjects and activities they find challenging.
  • Together, they can make a plan to develop the student's skills.
  • Sometimes, a student may not be very good in academics, but they may have special talent in a field like sports, art or music. Teachers should help students identify these talents and encourage them to continue pursuing those fields.

Examples of Online Counselling Sites

What About You?

Building self esteem in children, Source: YouTube

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Chitrangada Sharan


Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on February 26, 2020:

Thank you Peggy, for sharing your thoughts on this important article.

You are right about the bullying in the schools. The children get affected, if not paid attention to, by the parents and the teachers.

Online bullying is the greatest threat, and it doesn’t spare anyone. It’s shocking to read some of the comments, on various social media platforms.

We didn’t face things like that. But, I feel concerned about the future generations.

Let’s hope, that the things improve.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 25, 2020:

This is a vital topic. Bullying in school and now even online has become more of a problem these days, according to news reports. The online aspect is frightening! We did not have to deal with that when we were growing up. Your article addresses that and more. It is good that there are many resources out there to help people.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 13, 2014:

Thank you teaches12345, for your visit and insightful comments!

You are right, low self esteem affects children as well as adults. Perhaps if dealt with effectively during childhood, it may not affect later in life.

Thanks for sharing your valuable observation!

Dianna Mendez on August 12, 2014:

You have covered a topic that is so key to helping a child (and all people) succeed in life. Low self esteem prevents one from enjoying life as intended. As you suggest, parents can help children overcome this with positive love and guidance. Voted up.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 31, 2013:

Thanks Vinaya, for reading the hub and your positive comments!

I am glad you found it useful enough to refer to your sister. My best wishes!

Thanks for your support!

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on August 30, 2013:

These tips are not only helpful to children but also to adults as well. My sister is raising children, I'm going to share your advice with her.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on February 14, 2013:

Thanks mbyL, for visiting this hub and sharing it. I am glad you found the information useful.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on February 14, 2013:

Thanks L.L.Woodard, for reading the hub and commenting. Your positive feedback and additional inputs are greatly appreciated.

Slaven Cvijetic from Switzerland, Zurich on February 14, 2013:

I think you give good advice on an important topic. Low self-esteem hunts some people for their lifetime and I think your hub provides the reader with some useful information. That's why I shared it and tweeted it ;)

L.L. Woodard from Oklahoma City on February 14, 2013:

It can be challenging to strike a balance between motivating your children to do their best without damaging their self-image, but caring parents can do so. As adults we can get too caught up in the competitiveness of sports and grades and lose sight of our children's need for emotional support.

Great hub; voted up and Shared.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on February 03, 2013:

Thanks visionandfocus, for your visit and valuable feedback.

Thanks for adding further points to the hub and I agree , no one can make us feel inferior without our consent. This has to be inculcated in the children for them to become self assured and confident individuals.

Thanks again.

visionandfocus from North York, Canada on February 02, 2013:

Children thrive when you believe in them. I like to quote Eleanor Roosevelt: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." This shows them that they are not at the mercy of bullies. They must take responsibility for their emotions. This is a life-skill that would stand them in good stead throughout their lives.

Thanks for sharing! Voted up!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on November 25, 2012:

Thanks whonunuwho, for your kind visit and valuable feedback.

I completely agree with your opinion and understand your sentiments. You have the true sentiments of a teacher. I have followed almost the same path as a teacher like you have done. And I agree, we learn so much from the children about life and dealing with challenges.

I am glad you liked the article. Thanks a lot.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on November 25, 2012:

Thanks crystaleyes, for the visit and valuable feedback.

You have picked up all the important points of the hub to give your appreciation. And what a great example, added at the end, about your son. It has added more meaning to this hub, for which I thank you once again.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on November 25, 2012:

Thanks kimberlie33, for your visit and comments.

Yes, you are right---children observe their parents and teachers very closely and want to be like them. In fact they are the role models for them. Parents and teachers should always be approachable by them, to share their feelings or fears or insecurities. So, we have to be very careful about our behavior with them, within siblings and peers.

Thanks again.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on November 25, 2012:

Thanks mary for your kind visit and encouraging comments. Thanks again for voting up and sharing.

whonunuwho from United States on November 24, 2012:

The importance of self esteem in children was one of the topics in which I chose to write an important paper in college. It turned out to be my theme song from then on, as I taught children with learning challenges for more than twenty-five devoted years. I was granted four college degrees along the way, and readily admit, the kids taught me much more than I have taught them, about life and challenges faced by all everyday. I always used art and crafts in my classes. My kids all loved this and many improved overall grades as a result. They earned praise by others and teachers as well, and their self esteem shot through the roof, at times. A little praise and positive comments can go a long way for kids who struggle. Pairing them with concerned classmates who have little trouble in their class assignments also is effective, This was what happened to me in school as a youngster, and led me into the grand world of teaching. Thanks for your wonderful article.

crystaleyes from Earth on November 24, 2012:

A very important topic indeed, thanks for highlighting chitra,

Parents role is the greatest I feel in molding the child's self-esteem. I completely agree with you that praises, bonding, communication in a positive manner all contribute a lot.. while unnecessary comparisons, negativity among parents contribute towards low self-esteem in children..

Today my 8-year old asked me whether he is handsome or not.. I answered in the affirmative and we discussed about inner beauty, soul, and also how handsome he is in all ways.. outwardly and inwardly.. He was happy.

Kimberlie Kacan from Brooklyn, NY on November 24, 2012:

Thanks for the great suggestions. It's so amazing how parents and teachers shape a child's self esteem and may not even realize they are having a negative impact. You've pinpointed some very important things to remember when dealing with children.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on November 24, 2012:

Very interesting Hub about having low self esteem. That leads to many problems with people, especially young people. We, as parents, have to encourage our children and make them feel worthwhile.

I voted this Hub UP, etc. and will share.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on October 30, 2012:

Thanks nifwlseirff, for visiting and your valuable comments. Your views are much appreciated. Thanks a lot.

Kymberly Fergusson from Germany on October 30, 2012:

Low self-esteem often begins in childhood, and is especially a problem in parent who have low opinions of themselves, or overly high expectations of their children. And of course, it is sadly very common families where there is abuse of some kind.

It's always surprised me how many gifted children believe they are worthless, even though they are more 'successful' than many other children!

Parents and teachers should be positive influences and role models for children - a good reminder to work on their own self-esteem!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on September 19, 2012:

Thanks crazybeanrider, for stopping by and appreciating. I am glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks again.

Boo McCourt from Washington MI on September 18, 2012:

I think you are right about parents being a positive influence, if your parents are not feeeding you the positive you need, your self-esteem goes out the window. Enjoyed the topic very much.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on September 05, 2012:

Hi sgbrown!

Thanks for your valuable feedback. I am very thankful to you, for adding a link in your hub. I have read your hub, it is wonderful. Thanks for finding this hub useful.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on September 05, 2012:

Thanks jainismus, for stopping by and sharing.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on September 05, 2012:

Thanks Brett.Tesol, for visiting and your valuable comments. I am glad you found it useful.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on September 05, 2012:

This is very good information and advice for parents, grandparents and teachers. We are the ones who will help to mold our children into good, well rounded adults. I have added a link to this hub in a hub I recently wrote about the 10 Things You Should Say to Your Children. Your hub will be a wonderful added resource. Great job here! Voted up and useful. Have a wonderful day! :)

Mahaveer Sanglikar from Pune, India on September 05, 2012:

Very useful tips, thank you for sharing.

Brett C from Asia on September 04, 2012:

Good advice for teachers and parents alike, or even for those feeling a bit down themselves.

Shared, up and useful.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 31, 2012:

Thanks shivanchirakkal, for visiting and giving your valuable feedback. I agree, children are most vulnerable and do require utmost care by parents, teachers and society as a whole. You have raised some very important concerns regarding children, which everyone must give a thought. Thanks for your support.

shivanchirakkal10 on August 31, 2012:

dear Chitra,

Parent are most responsible persons to cultivate positive thinking in their children. Unfortunately most of the parent give less importance to their children. Working couples due to their busy left the child to a child care center or left under servant who treat the child carelessly or some time in a bad manner. Some parent use to take smoke and drink, and behave indecently in society, this will feel very badly to growing children. Such children become shy and moody and some time do criminal activities. Today news comes about mass sexual attacks on children even from their very near relatives. Such boys and girls lost even their mental balance. I think now a days children are heavily betrayed by unsocial elements.

So this helpless younger aged are low self esteemed.

Poverty, negligence also lead them low self esteemed.

Good parenting practice highly required to solve such situation.

voted up.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 24, 2012:

You are right. Thanks DDE, for your visit and valuable comment.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 24, 2012:

Children should always be encouraged by parents, that is how they gain their self-esteem from their homes

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 22, 2012:

Thanks MarleneB, for your visit and a positive feedback. I am glad you liked the tips. Your valuable comments always encourage me. Thanks again.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on August 22, 2012:

It is easy to develop low self esteem when people all around are constantly pointing out the negative aspects of a person. Your tip about meeting and becoming friends with positive people makes a difference in a person's life and how they come to cope with negativism. I learned this lesson early in life. Now, I only hang out with positive minded people, so that when they are critical, I know that they only mean to be helpful and not hurtful. This is a great hub on helping people combat low self esteem.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 19, 2012:

Hi jpcmc!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am glad you liked it. It is always encouraging to get positive comments.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 18, 2012:

Thanks Ann810, for your visit and valuable comment. Thanks for appreciating.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on August 17, 2012:

These are helpful tips. Children get to feel inadequate even at an early age because of peers, what they see around them and even because of some parenting styles. It's sad when low self esteem becomes a cause for more pressing problems. As early as possible family, school and friends should pitch in and help.

Ann810 from Sunny Cali on August 17, 2012:

Hi, I agree children should be praised for their small achievements as well. As parents we can build our children up or tear them down. Helping your child with their self-esteem is part of being parent. Voted up.

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 16, 2012:

Thanks flashmakeit, for your visit and appreciation. I am glad you liked it. Have a nice day.

flashmakeit from usa on August 15, 2012:

That was useful advice for parents and I agree. You should always encourage your children and bring out their best talents. Vote up!

Chitrangada Sharan (author) from New Delhi, India on August 14, 2012:

Hi writer20 ( Joyce),

Thanks for stopping over and giving your valuable comment. I wish you all the best to be normal once again. Be positive and Cheers!

Joyce Haragsim from Southern Nevada on August 14, 2012:

I never had low esteem until I was laid of of work then it hit the floor. I am doing a lot better now but it hasn't return to normal yet.

Vote up, useful and insteresting, Joyce