What Is Self-Esteem?
the general opinion a person has about himself or herself. Having high but
realistic self-esteem is essential to good mental health.
childhood experiences generally shape his or her self-esteem. Parents, teachers,
and childhood friends all have a powerful impact on how self-esteem develops.
frequently discussed in the context of childhood development, but adults also
need to have and maintain healthy self-esteem.
Self-Esteem in Children
experiences shape his or her self-esteem. A child needs to be treated with
love, respect, and kindness to develop positive self-esteem. If a child is
treated poorly, is overly teased, or is made to feel less worthy than other
people, that child’s self-esteem can suffer long-term damage.
a large amount of importance on how other perceive them, particularly during their
Encouraging Healthy Self-Esteem in Children
that a child's self-esteem tends to be lowest in the sixth grade (Rhodes, et al., 2004). Ways of enhancing children’s self-esteem include:
them when they do well. Don’t react to children only when they do something
- Ask them
for their opinions. They want to feel as though they have something to offer
when it comes to making important decisions.
- Let them
participate in positive things that interest them. Let them become an expert in
the things they are passionate about (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013).
- Girls often have lower
self-esteem than boys, so it may be important for parents to offer them extra
attention during their formative years (American Psychological
who grow up with adults who have psychological problems, as well as children
who lack resources for basic needs, are more prone to self-esteem problems. Children
with physical disabilities or other challenges may also struggle with
Self-Esteem in Adults
low self-esteem need constant affirmation such as work successes or compliments
from friends. Even then, boosts to their self-esteem are usually short-lived.
Healthy Self-Esteem as an Adult
low self-esteem can help themselves by remembering a few tips:
be your own worst enemy. Try to avoid too much self-criticism or assuming the worst.
to the facts about setbacks. People with low self-esteem often jump to overly
yourself credit and accept compliments. If someone praises you, acknowledge the
remark and feel good about it. Don't take being humble to the point of not
believing in your strengths.
yourself when you make a mistake—it's part of being human. Also understand that
some things are beyond your control.
out to others for help when you need it.
What Is the Outlook for Low Self-Esteem?
While it is
normal to experience periods of low-esteem from time to time, prolonged low
self-esteem can impair a person’s quality of life. It can lead to larger
problems, such as depression, drug or alcohol abuse, and a feeling of
Poor self-esteem can lead to mental
disorders in children and adults. Worse, it can lead to suicidal thinking (Kleirnan, E. et al., 2013).
Seek emergency medical care if you or a
loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts.
How Is Low Self-Esteem Diagnosed?
Many tests are
used to determine a child’s level of self-esteem. These tests can offer insight
into a child's actions and can help a professional treat problems.
educators can watch for the following indicators of low self-esteem in children:
reluctance to try new things
others for failures
- a reluctance
to accept praise
tendency to overcompensate
out or experimenting with drugs
In adults, the
following signs may indicate low self-esteem:
on negative thoughts
- a lack
accepting credit for successes
How Is Self-Esteem Treated?
self-esteem is interfering with a person’s quality of life, therapy may be
advised. Therapy can revolve around self-talk, or learning to better understand
what’s rational or not in a patient’s thinking. Cognitive behavior therapy
helps a person better understand their beliefs and take steps improve their outlook.
cognitive behavioral therapy report patient successes in 20 sessions or
less. Results tend to be lasting because patients learn new coping mechanisms (Core Physicians, 2010).