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Low Self Esteem in Children and Teenagers

Aug 23, 2007
Extreme low self-esteem in children and teenagers can be very dangerous to their ability to say no to bad influences like drugs, alcohol and illicit sex.

Maintaining a high level of self esteem can help a child or teen find the courage to stand up against the crowd for what they believe and say no with courage and power. Self-esteem is what helps us all hold our heads up high and believe that we can accomplish anything we set out to do. All wonderful traits we want to instill in our kids.

Unfortunately for far too many teens, sudden changes in their bodies and emotions can leave them scared, confused and frightened. Many lose their ability to feel good about themselves and begin to make bad choices that can adversely affect their futures.

How can you, as a parent, tell the difference between normal teenage angst and serious self-esteem issues? Watch for these important clues:

-A sudden change in the way they look and take care of their appearance.
A child who has always been meticulous about the way they dressed and looked, and who suddenly takes no care in themselves or their clothing may be adopting an attitude of "I'm always a mess anyway so no one will notice."

-Exhibits an extreme need to be perfect.
Children who feel that they must be perfect at everything often do so as a way to hide all the things they perceive that they can't do correctly. Being studious is one thing, but if your child suddenly exhibits an unnatural need for perfection, or has a hard time dealing with even the smallest amount of criticism; it may be a sign of trouble.

-An inability to try new things.
It's natural for children and teens to want to try new things and have new experiences. A child who consistently shies away from anything but the norm, may not have the confidence to believe that they can succeed.

-Constant belittling.
A child with a good sense of self esteem is can easily interact with their peers and accept life's challenges without making it a big deal, while children with low self esteem will constantly belittle themselves even when they do succeed.

What if you recognize these signs in your own child? What can you do to help build your child's self esteem? Follow these tips:

-Watch what you say.
Be gentle with any criticism and watch for opportunities to offer thoughtful (and truthful) praise.

-Be a positive role model.
Don't be too hard on yourself either. If you expect too much from yourself, your children are apt to follow your lead and mirror your behavior.

-Be affectionate with your child.
Give your kids lots of hugs and praise. Let them know that they are worthy of your love and attention.

-Make your child feel safe and nurtured.
Take the time to make him or her feel important.
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