A child with a healthy self-esteem will feel worthy of happiness.

Things That Damage a Child's Self-Esteem

by Kristen Moutria

If you are a parent, you most likely possess the desire to see your child grow up with a positive and healthy sense of self-worth. While the term "self-esteem" is used in many different contexts, Nathaniel Branden defines it as "the disposition to experience oneself as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and of being worthy of happiness." In order to empower your child to cope with life's obstacles and adopt a joyful disposition, it is important to know what could damage his self-esteem, and avoid it.


Neglect can lead to a pattern of low self-esteem that starts in infancy. Dr. Sears emphasizes the importance of attachment parenting, as a baby who is consistently and lovingly responded to will get the message that she is valuable and worth caring for. Early nurturing leads to later confidence in life, and a child who was not responded to as a baby may feel like her needs are not important. Psychotherapists Michael and Cheryl Irving state that a child who has been neglected may also be emotionally delayed.

Being Bullied

A child who is bullied will likely suffer a damaged sense of self-worth that may persist for years. HealthyChildren.org reports that bullying actually damages a child's ability to perceive himself in a positive light. Furthermore, Joseph Wright, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Violence Prevention Subcommittee, reports that teens who are subjected to bullying become vulnerable to a plethora of long-term effects as they reach adulthood. It is important to keep a child protected from the damaging effects of being bullied, now and once he reaches his adolescent years.

Parent Conflict

If you are fighting with your spouse in front of your child, you may want to take a step back and re-evaluate your actions. The Women's and Children's Health Network states that stresses at home, such as her parents fighting, can lead to low self-esteem during primary school years. Seeing her parents angry at each other instead of displaying love through their actions may make it difficult for her to get rid of a sense of insecurity.

Lack of Affirmation

A lack of positive affirmation on the part of his parents, friends or mentors may lead to low self-esteem in a child. Dr. Sears emphasizes the importance of encouraging your child's talents, as well as setting him up to succeed, in order to boost self-confidence. Encouraging your child, as well as making sure to not have unusually high expectations for him, will set him up to do his best and feel good about himself.

About the Author

Kristen Moutria has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Evangel University. She is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in education from the University of Nebraska.

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