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Signs of Low Self-Esteem in Children & Teens

A healthy sense of self-esteem is essential for growing strong and confident children! Here at Augusta Pediatric Associates, we believe that you can foster a strong sense of self-worth in your children by teaching them who they are created in Christ. We believe that all children are gifts from the Lord and he has made them uniquely wonderful in His way. When they learn to find value in this knowledge, rather than in worldly accomplishments or praise, they will have true lasting self-esteem that cannot be shaken. 

However, we know that adolescence can be a tough time for many children and there are obstacles they face growing into teens and young adults that can shake their confidence. We want you to be attentive to changes that might indicate your child might be suffering from low self-esteem or could use extra support navigating these years. 

Some signs that indicate a child is dealing with low self-esteem include: 

  • Avoiding a task or challenge without even trying. 
  • Quitting soon after beginning a game or a task, or giving up at the first sign of frustration.
  • Cheating or lying when they think they’re going to lose a game or do poorly.
  • Showing signs of regression, like acting babylike or very silly. These types of behavior invite teasing and name-calling from other kids, worsening the problem.
  • Becoming controlling, bossy or inflexible as ways of hiding feelings of inadequacy, frustration or powerlessness.
  • Making excuses or downplaying the importance of something. They may use this kind of rationalizing to place blame on others or external forces.
  • Showing declining grades or less interest in usual activities.
  • Withdrawing socially, losing or having less contact with friends.
  • Experiencing changing moods, sadness, crying, angry outbursts, frustration or quietness.
  • Making self-critical comments such as “I can never do things right,” or “Nobody likes me.”

How to Support Positive Growth

If you notice any of the above, or just want to take actionable steps to support positive self-esteem you can do so by:

  • Spending time with your child: this is the best way to get to know them, spot patterns in their behavior, and set up the opportunity for them to feel comfortable sharing about their feelings.
  • Treating them as an important person: Encourage them to express themself, listen without judging, accept their feelings, and treat them with respect. Family mealtimes can be a great time to ask questions about various topics where everyone is encouraged to share their feelings. 
  • Praise their accomplishments! Even small praise for progress made can go a long way.
  • Encourage them to serve others. Helping others fosters a stronger sense of self-accomplishment and positivity that isn’t directly tied to an “achievement” which can significantly help aid a child who may be struggling with low self-esteem. 

Stay patient, parents! Boosting your child’s self-concept will not happen overnight; it could take several months or years. If you notice that your child seems increasingly sad, or shows signs of depression, please talk with your pediatrician about the need for professional support. We want to be a safe place to provide resources and help for you both. 

For questions or any other concerns, Augusta Pediatrics can be reached at (706) 868-0389. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only. 


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