Low self-esteem can have a negative impact on your child’s mental health. It is something which I have personally been working on with my 8-year-old and a topic which I know will help many of you. Many things can affect a child’s self-esteem, conflict with friends, problems at school or at home or comparison (especially in terms of what they see on social media. It can be hard to notice these self-esteem issues in your child so it’s important to look out for changes in their behaviour and the language that they use about themselves. A child with high self-esteem will have a growth mindset and won’t allow failure to stop them from trying again, they’ll use positive self-talk and be more assertive when discussing their needs. A child with low self-esteem might use negative self-talk like.
- I’m not good enough
- My teacher doesn’t think that I’m clever
- My friends are more clever than me
- Everyone will laugh at me
- I’m rubbish at this
- I’m not as pretty as her/him
The problem here is that eventually our mindset will make us believe these negative thoughts about our self, and if left can lead to more serious problems like depression and anxiety. One way to work on a mindset shift is to challenge the negative thoughts. When my child has negative thoughts I ask her, “What evidence is there you’re not good enough or that everyone will laugh at you?” “What evidence is there that your friends are more clever?” I then get her to list all the positives about herself and that people say to her. These are some which she listed.
- Everyone always comments on my eyes and smile
- I am good at expressing my feelings
- I am good at drama and have filmed two tv adverts so I am successful
- I am a great big sister
- My love languages are words of affirmation and acts of service which makes my family and friends feel appreciated
- I am great at tennis
- I am creative
- I make friends easily
- My legs are strong
Another way to reframe these thoughts is by practicing gratitude and journaling. Some journal prompts to get you started are.
- What went well for me today?
- What made me smile today?
- How do I feel in this moment?
- What can I do right now to lift my mood?
These are good to do together before bed as I personally find that my daughter loves to talk about her day at bedtime. One thing to remember is that their feelings are valid, even if we disagree with them. For example lets say your child tells you that they don’t think they are clever, the natural response as a parent would be “Don’t be silly, of course you’re clever.” This might be coming from a good place but you are actually invalidating their feeling/worry. A good response would be, “What makes you feel that way?” This opens up the conversation. Maybe they don’t think that they are good at Maths which in turn is making them believe that they aren’t clever at anything. In this scenario I would say “I know that Maths isn’t your strongest subject but you are amazing for trying so hard and for caring so much.” Then you could point out how good they are at other subjects and work together to improve their mindset around Maths, this could be by finding a fun way to practice together.
I hope this advice has been helpful.