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Low Self-Esteem in Children and Adolescents

Back to Childhood Problems

Self-esteem, how we feel about ourselves, develops very early in life. Taking their lead from their parents and other significant adults, children often look for evidence that they are lovable, smart and capable. When this evidence is not found, problems may occur in a variety of areas:

  • Academic performance- Children who do not feel good about themselves are less likely to do well in school. They are prone to giving up easily and lack persistence, as they doubt their abilities to succeed, particularly with more challenging tasks.
  • Peer relationships- Children with low self-esteem are likely to have difficulties relating to children their own age. They may bully others or lack the confidence to make friends. Some children with low self-esteem may cling to their parents or other adults.
  • Creativity- Children who do not feel good about themselves are less likely to take the risk of being creative. They may hesitate to express themselves and engage in creative activities, where there are not clear cut criteria for success.
  • Mood- Children with low self-esteem are likely prone to feeling down. Children who think poorly of themselves are more likely to view temporary setbacks as permanent. They are also more likely to be pessimistic and assume that things will not go well for them. Finally, may they doubt their own competence and abilities to overcome obstacles and problems.

Therapy can help children and adolescents improve their self-esteem. At the Centers for Family Change we look at each child and adolescent as an individual. We focus on understanding the nature of the child’s self-esteem problem and then determine the best approach for helping the child or teen. We focus on helping children and adolescents learn to identify their positive attributes, more realistically evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and develop an increased sense of competency and self-worth.

We emphasize a family approach to treating low self-esteem. You and your child are helped to:

  • Identify your child’s strengths and ways to build on these
  • Develop strategies to reward your child’s efforts to overcome weaknesses
  • Refine strategies to improve frustration tolerance and confidence
  • Overcome pessimism and self-doubt
  • Recognize the importance of taking pride in accomplishments

We also work with you to address problems that may arise related to low self esteem including peer problems, underachievement (related to self-doubt and a tendency to give up easily), and depression and excessive negativity.


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2625 Butterfield Road, Suite 101N, Oakbrook IL 60523
Phone: 630-586-0900 | Fax: 630-586-9990


Oakbook Psychotherapy