Self-esteem is the way in which a person feels about him or herself. Although a person’s self image may be naturally positive or negative, that sense of self grows and changes throughout life and is affected by many personal experiences. A strong and solid self-esteem usually makes life easier, happier and more fulfilling. A child with a healthy self-esteem tends to enjoy interacting with others, works toward positive solutions when problems arise, can express frustration without criticism, accepts both theirs and others’ strengths and weaknesses, and is generally optimistic. On the contrary, a child who has low self-esteem may avoid trying new things, exhibits a low tolerance for frustration, is overly self critical, sees temporary setbacks as unsolvable and generally views life with a sense of pessimism. Self-esteem affects the way someone lives, thinks, acts, gets along with others and succeeds in life. There are many factors that can contribute to poor self-esteem, including, but not limited to, traumatic experiences, depression, social problems, or family conflicts.

Parents are understandably concerned when their child exhibits symptoms of a poor or negative self-esteem over any period of time. Fortunately, parents can help their child build positive self-esteem by providing a loving, supportive, cooperative and safe home environment. An atmosphere of acceptance of imperfection and making mistakes within a family is very important. Pointing out a child’s strengths and recognizing effort is crucial. Parents can also redirect inaccurate comments and beliefs to encourage their child to develop an accurate, realistic and positive self image. Parents can encourage a better self image by role modeling positive self-esteem, confidence and optimism in themselves.

Seeking professional help can be useful if a child has ongoing feelings of low self-worth despite the efforts of their parents to address these issues. The staff at Silber Psychological Services can help assess a situation and figure out what underlying issues are preventing your child from feeling positive about him or herself. Psychological Testing may or may not be warranted, depending on the extent and length of the problem. Treatment would involve exploring underlying issues as well as learning strategies for helping your child improve their self image. A combination of individual, family or group therapy may be indicated. With appropriate treatment, a child can be assisted in creating a more realistic, positive self perception and healthier self-esteem.