Low self-esteem starts with worrying and
fretting about failing. It grows into giving up quickly. This leads to shutting
down and not trying. If parental or other adult reactions are too harsh, your
child goes through the motions for fear of even harsher consequences. He simply
plays the game. This is a very sad way for him to think and feel about success,
achievement, and interpersonal participation. Nonetheless, low self-esteem can
get still worse for him.
Your youngster feels incompetent and may have a
low physical-sexual self-image as well. Most children have some uncertainty
about themselves physically and sexually; but children with self-esteem
problems have these thoughts persistently and feel them strongly. They think
they cannot succeed, cannot achieve, and they are not accepted socially. They
also may think they are not made right or well enough.
This poor self-image has nothing to do with how
the young person actually looks or is developing. Your child believes it, no
matter what the facts are or what other people tell him.
Resist trying to convince him his perceptions
and feelings are wrong. That only strengthens his belief you do not understand.
You can say, “I feel badly you think about yourself in such negative ways.
You’re a normal person and are fine physically and sexually. I know you doubt
that even though it is true. I want to hear what you think and feel about it;
but I’m not going to argue. You have a right to your feelings. Will you tell me
how it feels to you?”