The 6 main self-esteem problems common in childhood

Childhood is not only the time when we learn more quickly about how the world works; Furthermore, it is in this first phase of life where our self-concept is configured for the first time, that is, the entire set of knowledge and beliefs about the “I” and all that it implies: who we are, what we like, what we are about capable, etc.

However, this is not a pure objective knowledge extraction process. Along with those ideas that we are internalizing about what we are as individuals, we also associate a whole series of emotions and feelings to all facets of our “I”; In other words, everything we know or think we know about ourselves has a strong emotional charge that affects us whether we want to or not. And in childhood, it is relatively easy for us to find it difficult to manage those emotions or to build a wrong and dysfunctional self-concept about our identity.

That is why many of the children who go to psychotherapy have, in one way or another, self-esteem problems. It is a phenomenon that, if not addressed in time, can lead to a difficult adulthood; as much of what we do on a day-to-day basis depends on the idea we have about ourselves, if this fails, a good part of our behavior patterns will surely fail. Here we will see a summary of the most common types of self-esteem problems in childhoodas well as some tips on what to do.

The most characteristic self-esteem problems of childhood

The way of thinking, feeling and behaving of the little ones is governed by their own rules, and this makes it difficult for many parents to fully understand the kind of psychological problems that the little ones can encounter. Here you will find a summary of those that have to do with self-esteem.

1. Complexes by the nicknames and the labeled

Many children receive, from others, “labels” with which they do not feel comfortable. For example, “the clueless”, “the bossy”, and so on. In fact, on many occasions it is adults or even family members who use these names. It is important to avoid them so that children do not believe that these adjectives limit the range of behaviors and skills that they can expect of themselves.

2. Conflicts of self-acceptance by gender roles

Regrettably, self-acceptance problems and insecurities derived from not fully conforming to gender roles remain a reality in people of all ages; This means, for example, that some boys may develop low self-esteem due to the fact that they interact especially with girls, or that some girls are socially “punished” for speaking confidently and not fearing leadership positions.

In situations like this, it is necessary to make sure they know that although this kind of social pressure to conform to certain attitudes and tasks exists, it is not what one should aspire to, and that the problem is not in oneself but in the prejudices of some of the people around him.

3. Jealousy between siblings

The simple fact of having a little brother or sister does not imply that there has to be a rivalry or self-esteem problems arising from the comparison with the other; However, it is true that the occasions in which this happens are not rare.

This can occur, for example, by not accepting or understanding very well that the youngest receives more attention from the elders (especially in their first months of life), or by seeing that the older brother or sister can do things that one is not yet allowed.

In such cases, it is important to dedicate at least one talk specifically designed so that you understand that those kinds of experiences do not reflect what each one is worth, but are derived solely from the stage of growth and protection that each child needs, and not so much from personal merits. It is also good that they know that at their age a difference of only a few months can be very significant, while in adulthood it is not.

4. Low self-esteem due to feeling of loneliness

Some boys and girls have difficulty making friends, and the loneliness that results from this makes them think they are worth little.

In cases like this, it is necessary to help them understand that the fact of having a difficulty in a specific area of their life (starting conversations with other children whom they do not know well, for example) does not summarize their identity, and that behind a type of very specific problem, it is possible to find a whole series of situations and experiences in which one can cope well. This will serve as a form of motivation for them to confront their insecurities and gradually polish their social skills.

Yes, it is advisable not to let them face this without help; If necessary, seek psychotherapeutic help so that the child learns to manage the anxiety arising from social interactions and to improve their communication skills.

5. Problems due to not having external validation

Even in children who interact regularly and closely with other children their age, it may happen that they experience discomfort because in these groups they feel ignored or notice that they are not taken into account when making decisions, actively participating in games, etc.

These kinds of situations are complex (like all the ones we have seen so far, to a greater or lesser extent) they require to be analyzed individually, but something that usually goes well is to encourage the little one not to settle for any group of friends ; many times the main problem is believing that you have to belong to a certain social circle at any cost, when there are others in whom one can easily feel accepted.

6. Self-esteem problems derived from situations of violence

We cannot ignore that sometimes self-esteem problems arise from experiences in which we have felt very vulnerable and defenseless, and during childhood we are especially prone to go through situations like this given our need for protection, both physical and emotional. Faced with these kinds of problems, it is very important to seek psychological help as soon as possible.

Are you interested in having professional psychological help?

If you are looking for psychological assistance or educational support services from professionals, get in touch with us. In Nanda Center we specialize in psychotherapy, speech therapy, and psychopedagogy and school reinforcement. You can find us in Sabadell; To see our contact information, access this page.

Bibliographic references:

  • Branden, N. (2001). The psychology of self-esteem: a revolutionary approach to self-understanding that launched a new era in modern psychology. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Cassidy, J .; Shaver, PR (1999). Handbook of Attachment: Theory, Research and Clinical Applications. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Labrador, FJ, Cruzado, JA and Muñoz, M. (1998): Manual of behavior modification and therapy techniques. Madrid: Editorial Pirámide.
  • Taylor, LC, Clayton, Jennifer D., Rowley, SJ (2004). Academic Socialization: Understanding Parental Influences on Children’s School-Related Development in the Early Years. Review of General Psychology. 8 (3): pp. 163-178.
  • Wallin, D. (2012). Attachment in psychotherapy. Bilbao: Desclée De Brouwer.


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