Signs of Low Self-Esteem

What are the signs of low self-esteem?

To help you determine if your child has low self-esteem, watch for the following signals. They could be everyday responses to how your child relates to the world around him, or they might occur only occasionally in specific situations. When they become a repeated pattern of behavior, you need to become sensitive to the existence of a problem.

  • Your child avoids a task or challenge without even trying. This often signals a fear of failure or a sense of helplessness.
  • He quits soon after beginning a game or a task, giving up at the first sign of frustration.
  • He cheats or lies when he believes he’s going to lose a game or do poorly.
  • He shows signs of regression, acting babylike or very silly. These types of behavior invite teasing and name-calling from other youngsters, thus adding insult to injury.
  • He becomes controlling, bossy, or inflexible as ways of hiding feelings of inadequacy, frustration, or powerlessness.
  • He makes excuses (“The teacher is dumb”) or downplays the importance of events (“I don’t really like that game anyway”), uses this kind of rationalizing to place blame on others or external forces.
  • His grades in school have declined, or he has lost interest in usual activities.
  • He withdraws socially, losing or having less contact with friends.
  • He experiences changing moods, exhibiting sadness, crying, angry outbursts, frustration, or quietness.
  • He makes self-critical comments, such as “I never do anything right,” “Nobody likes me,” “I’m ugly,” “It’s my fault,” or “Everyone is smarter than I am.”
  • He has difficulty accepting either praise or criticism.
  • He becomes overly concerned or sensitive about other people’s opinions of him.
  • He seems to be strongly affected by negative peer influence, adopting attitudes and behaviors like a disdain for school, cutting classes, acting disrespectfully, shoplifting, or experimenting with tobacco, alcohol, or drugs.
  • He is either overly helpful or never helpful at home.


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