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What Can I Do To Help My Kid Overcome Low Self-Esteem?


Question: What Can I Do To Help My Kid Overcome Low Self-Esteem?
With today's emphasis on academic and athletic performance, social pressures, peer comparisons, and on-the-go families, kids can often develop low self-esteem. Is this normal, and what can adults do to help?
Answer: Childhood is often a case of highs and lows, and today's societal comparisons on who's the best, the brightest, the tallest, or the fastest can take its toll on kids at time. While some short-term self-esteem blues are somewhat normal (after all, nobody can be the best at everything), parents and providers should watch kids closely to see if the behavior seems to be more long-term than a temporary hiccup. If a kid seems to always be down on himself or stuck with "I can't do anything" blues, then some intervention may be needed.

Child experts say low self esteem can also be caused from well-meaning, but misdirected parents, who focus on perfectionism or their child being a top performer at anything. Some parents may hurt a child's self-esteem by never letting them experience failure at home, so when they are in different settings without their parents' protection may not be equipped to handle the stress well if they are not considered one of the best. Kids can also get low self-esteem from coaches who push them to hard, from peers who tease them for being different physically or in other ways, or in any way in which a kid thinks she doesn't measure up.

Adults should respond to low-self esteem comments by providing positive feedback, and talking with teachers, providers and coaches to see where the issues may be. Partner with adults who have any role with your child by asking them to focus on improvements and natural abilities rather than any weaknesses. The overall message to young kids is that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and that they are always loved and valued regardless of performance.
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