Dealing with Signs of Low Self Esteem

I often wonder why some school teachers try to discipline a child/student for whatever reason without putting the child’s feelings into consideration. As adults, teachers, carers, tutors, or parents, we need to exercise control and remain poised when dealing with children’s behaviours while we seek teachable moments to teach them so that they can take something valuable away from the mistakes they had made.

As much as I stress the importance of parents learning new ways of bonding with their children and using emotional intelligence when dealing with their behaviour, it makes good sense that teachers take emotional intelligence sessions as part of their continuous professional development.

I have come across too many children ranging from the early years stage up to ks1-ks4 who suffer from low self-esteem or lack of self-confidence because a teacher or someone in authority within the learning setting has used words that shouldn’t be used to describe a child just to hurt the child’s feelings, or have publicly rebuked them in the presence of their peers causing them embarrassment because the child isn’t deemed as clever, gregarious, sociable or competitive as the others.

This might not be a popular view, but I do not believe that test results should be displayed on the classroom interactive board for all to see. Perhaps I’m being a tad sensitive, but I have come across new secondary school students feeling absolutely awful because their test results have been exposed to other kids who can’t wait to pounce on them; making fun of their low test marks. This brings about such low self-esteem for those who cannot handle the pressure or embarrassment for good reasons. Every child is an individual and cannot be like the next child.

The crux of the matter is that all situations that affect a child’s self-confidence at school may not be reversed, but parents can build their children’s confidence to deal with situations. As much as I wish every teacher would be emotionally intelligent, they still don’t owe it to our children and that’s just the truth. We as parents have to place the tools especially ones they can draw on as they grow older in the hands of our children to help them cope with certain realities of everyday life. . Some of these very useful tools are…..


Teach them to Name their emotions correctly:

A very important part of a Childs’ self-confidence is how he or she describes their emotions. Children tend to use the wrong emotions to describe how they feel and this immediately reflects on them.

A child once told me he felt frustrated with himself because he didn’t do so well in his spelling test. I could tell by the way he walked and his general demeanour that he was disheartened. So I invited him to look up the dictionary meaning of frustration with me and we found it to mean – ‘The feeling of being annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something’. ‘Oh’ he said, maybe I’m just disappointed I didn’t do well this time. For some reason he didn’t feel so upset with himself after that, but confident that he could do well next time.

Help them understand and name emotions correctly as this can change the childs perspective of who they really are.

Teach them dialoguing skills

It could be helpful if a child is taught to feel free to speak to a teacher with the parent in attendance or for an older child to request an audience with the teacher or staff who has been insensitive towards them.

Have bullet points of what your concerns are. A teacher would grant audience if the parent sends an email or a note stating that the child would like to meet with them. More often than not, the teacher would make excuses for being insensitive towards the child, but this gives your child a chance to say what’s on his or her mind. The adrenalin rush will give the child a lot of confidence. This is also a life time tool which I call ‘dialoguing and negotiating terms’.

Keeping an incident diary:

This doesn’t need to be limited to just the girls, boys are very happy to record events especially if they know it will be used as evidence. A child should be encouraged to write down events no matter how little they are. I have found that this soothes a child instantly. It gives them a chance to think through what happened and how they might have dealt differently with the situation. The time spent in recounting the incident and how they feel gives them time to reflect.

Reinforce confidence:

Children thrive on positive affirmation. It’s one of the key tools a parent has to work with. Some children need affirmation to feel they can do or achieve anything whilst some do not. Whichever side of the coin your child falls on, reaffirming our unconditional love for them before school, after dinner, before bed, whilst on school run reinforces to the child that they do not have to please everyone to feel worthy.

Until next Time, keep adding value ……


4 Responses to “Dealing with Signs of Low Self Esteem”

  1. Lisa

    This is a fantastic piece. A few pointers I definitely need to adopt. I especially like teaching them to name their emotions and reinforcing confidence.

  2. Marilee

    Hi Matthew,Great post. I love the list of ways to use the power within us. It amazes me that given the potential we have most don’t come close to living up to their full potential. Wouldn’t you agree?Thanks for shraing!Janette Stoll


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