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The National Association for Self-Esteem (2010) defines self-esteem as ‘the experience of being capable of meeting life’s challenges and being worthy of happiness.’ A very simple description of self-esteem is: liking yourself for who you are, believing in yourself and knowing your capabilities. Young people with a healthy self-esteem are less likely to have problematic behaviours, are more likely to have appropriate social skills and are less susceptible to emotional concerns.

Nurturing your child’s self-esteem

Here are some practical tips to assist you in nurturing your children’s self-esteem.

  • Unconditionally love your children. Frequently tell your children that you love them.
  • Give your children time and attention.
  • Provide your children with a sense of family, community and culture.
  • Celebrate your children’s successes. Praise their effort rather than the outcome.
  • Allow your children to take age-appropriate risks.
  • Experiencing competence and success is important for a healthy self-esteem. Allow your children to engage in a wide range of activities. This will help them to find activities that they like, feel good about and are good at.
  • Encourage your children to try new things.
  • Allow your children to fail. Teach them how to bounce back from failure. Trying and failing is better than not trying at all.
  • Increase your children’s independence by making them responsible for aspects of their daily lives.
  • Teach your children the value of making mistakes by modelling that it is okay to make mistakes and demonstrate how you resolve the mistake.
  • Teach them how to problem-solve; this skill will help them to cope with future challenges.

Poor self-esteem

Poor self-esteem can reduce a young person’s quality of life and make them at risk of emotional, social and behavioural mental health concerns. You should be concerned about your children’s poor self-esteem if they:

  • Are very critical of themselves and see themselves in a negative way
  • Have a lot of negative feelings, such as: anger, shame, guilt, sadness, worry
  • Believe that they are inferior to their peers
  • Can’t accept compliments from others
  • Are sensitive to criticism
  • Take personal blame for situations that are beyond their control
  • Fear trying new things
  • Aren’t able or willing to honestly communicate their needs, thoughts and feelings to others
  • Constantly seek approval from parents, peers and other adults
  • Have bullied other people
  • Tolerate unacceptable behaviour from other people
  • Harm themselves

Underlying concerns associated with poor self-esteem

When young people have poor self-esteem, they often have concerns that aren’t being addressed or have needs that aren’t being met. In the table below we identify some concerns that could be underlying causes of your child’s poor self-esteem. For more information on each of these concerns, please follow the links.





Assessment of poor self-esteem

During your first session we meet with you and your child to conduct a clinical interview to discuss your child’s self esteem and to identify any other underlying behavioural, emotional, social or educational concerns your child may have. Finally, we develop a personalised, evidence-based treatment plan to help your child and your family.

Treatment of poor self-esteem

The aim of our treatment is to reduce your children’s negative concept of themselves and to overcome the negative impact those thoughts and feelings are having on their daily functioning. We accomplish this by helping you to understand your children’s thoughts, feelings, and needs, and by providing your children and family with strategies and skills that challenge your children’s beliefs about themselves while meeting their underlying needs.

We use evidence-based, cognitive behavioural therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy to treat low self-esteem. We use a range of cognitive behavioural therapy techniques, depending upon your individual child’s needs, such as:

  • Thought-challenging
  • Emotion regulation training
  • Problem skills training
  • Exposure therapy

We may also use the following evidence-based therapy techniques:

  • Mindfulness/relaxation
  • Anxiety group programs
  • Resilience group programs

For more detailed information on what to expect in your sessions with us, please visit our Appointments page.

If you would like help in understanding and developing your child’s self-esteem, please contact us to schedule an appointment.