Numerous studies have linked low self-esteem to a wide range of problems, including poor school achievement, criminal and violent behavior; being the victim of bullying; teenage pregnancy; smoking and the use of alcohol and other drugs; dropping out of school; depression; and thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts, and suicide. Also, children and teens who have low self-esteem have more physical health problems than those with higher self-esteem.
Every child and teen has low self-esteem at some time in his or her life. Criticism from parents or others can make children with low self-esteem feel worse. Children can also develop low self-esteem if parents or others press them to reach unrealistic goals. Parents should be concerned when a child's low self-esteem interferes with his or her daily activities or causes depression. Some common signs of low-self esteem in children and teens are as follows:
feeling they must always please other people
general feelings of not liking themselves
feelings of unhappiness most of the time
feeling that their problems are not normal and that they to blame for their problems
needing constant validation or approval
not making friends easily or having no friends
needing to prove that they are better than others
When to call the doctor
Sometimes a lack of self-esteem is too much for a child to handle alone. Parents may need to seek professional psychological help for children suffering from low self-esteem when the child is depressed or shows an inability to create friendships. Help may also be needed for adolescents whose lack of self-esteem is expressed in negative behaviors, such as criminal activities, gang affiliation, smoking, and alcohol and other drug dependency. If the child talks about or threatens suicide, professional help should be sought immediately.