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How Parents Destroy Self-Esteem: Comprehensive Guide

As a parent you want your kid to grow into a strong and self-assured individual. Right? However what if without even noticing you're planting the seeds of doubt instead?

In this article, we will be critically analyzing how parents destroy self-esteem. This will make you question your parenting skills.

But don't fret, this guide isn't about pointing fingers or making you feel like a terrible parent. It's about unleashing those subtle and sneaky ways through which your actions can unintentionally impact your little one's confidence.

From well-intentioned critique that hurts rather than providing help, to establishing unrealistic expectations that leave your kiddos feeling imperfect, it's time to shed light on these common pitfalls. We will help you figure out how your actions regularly can either uplift or break your child's esteem.

Alongside discussing how you as a parent can destroy self-esteem, we will also provide some practical tips to boost your kid's self-respect. So, let's get straight into the topic without any further wait.

How Parents Destroy Self-Esteem: Comprehensive Guide


In This Article


What is Self-Esteem?

Self-esteem means your overall evaluation and perception of yourself. It is all about how you see and value your abilities, worth, and qualities as an individual. Self-esteem plays a significant role in forming your behavior, thoughts, and emotions.

It is influenced by many factors in your child's life over time. And the most significant aspect that shapes their self-esteem is you as a parent. Right from the moment your kid is born, you become their guardian and an absolute role model.

The way you interact with them, express your feelings, and offer support and love can either build them up or tear them down. Therefore, it's crucial to understand how parents destroy self-esteem and how they can set an environment that nurtures self-image.

Also, some other factors influence your self-esteem such as your little one's:

  • Experiences

  • Achievements

  • Relationships

  • Societal standards

  • Personal expectations

How Parents Destroy Self-Esteem

Now, you understand what self-esteem is. Next, let's explore the ways through which parents unknowingly ruin their child's self-esteem.

Unrealistic Expectations and Comparisons

Are you a parent who sets unrealistic expectations and compares your child to others? If so, you're unknowingly burdening them with a sense of incompetence.

Demanding perfection and placing extra pressure on children to achieve something can lead to a feeling of never being good enough. And as a result, kids may develop a fear of failure, and anxiety resulting in their low self-esteem.

For instance, your child gets a low grade on a test. Instead of encouraging them to do their best next time, you are comparing their academic achievements to those of their siblings and peers. Consequently, they will start to believe themselves as losers and can never excel. This will result in weakened self-worth.

Therefore, you must set realistic expectations considering your child's unique strengths and abilities. By encouraging their personal growth and celebrating their progress you will nurture their self-esteem.

Mother Shouting on Her Daughter

Negligence of Emotional Needs

What is emotional neglect and how do parents neglect the emotional needs of their children?

According to Parentingforbrain,

Child's emotional neglect CEN is the parent's failure to meet their child's emotional needs during the early years.

When parents are unable to offer emotional support and safe space for their little one's feelings and emotions, it allows kids to think that their feelings don't hold importance or don't deserve any attention. As a result, a sense of invalidation occurs destroying the child's self-esteem.

For instance, your kid expresses sadness and anxiety over something and you ignored these emotions. What happens then is that the child adopts the idea that their feelings are unworthy of attention. Therefore, it's crucial for you to actively uphold your little one's experiences, listen to their sentiments and offer the assistance they need.

Harsh Criticism and Negative Language

The words you choose to communicate with your kids can leave lasting marks on their self-image. Harsh criticism, belittling remarks, and negative language can deeply wound their self-confidence.

Let's say you scold your kid for making mistakes and not meeting your expectations. When your child hears words like, "You never do anything right", or "You're dumb", it can hurt their self-worth profoundly. Also, it hinders their ability to build strength and learn from their mistakes.

Instead of only focusing on their flaws and shortcomings, you should recognize their efforts and strengths. Choose your words wisely, offer valuable feedback, and encourage them in a supportive manner. This way you inspire your little ones to believe in themselves.


While it's natural for parents to protect their kids from any harm, excessive overprotection can result in hindered growth and self-esteem.

When you always shield your kids from taking on responsibilities and challenges, they start to deny these opportunities that are vital for building strength, independence, and confidence.

As Debra Pry says,

"Overprotective parents just hinder a child's growth. Give your child the freedom to grow."

Suppose you don't let your little one participate in extracurricular activities, go out with friends to play, and take on any decision. As a result, your child will grow up with a sense of doubt and a lack of confidence in their self.

Moreover, they will start to believe they can't tackle life challenges and lack the self-esteem to take risks and seek their objectives. That's why you need to find a balance between providing guidance and allowing your kid to discover the world and learn from their encounters.

Parents Having Discussion with Her Daughter

How Parents Can Boost Self-Esteem - Some Practical Tips

While it's important to be aware of the behaviors that can damage a child's self-esteem. It is equally crucial to focus on ways that raise and boost their self-worth.

Following are some practical ways for you to enhance your little one's self-esteem.

Encourage Individuality

Recognize our child's unique strengths, talents, and qualities. Be ready to support them to pursue their passions and interest, and let them know their worth is not based on others' comparisons. Likewise, help them understand that their personality is what makes them special.

Provide Unconditional Love and Acceptance

Make sure your child knows they are being loved, regardless of their achievements or flaws. Understand the, show sympathy, and support them during both their successes and failures. Let them feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, feelings, and problems without fear of judgment.

Focus on Effort and Growth

Instead of only praising outcomes, such as trophies, grades, and shields, highlight the importance of effort, determination, and personal growth. Urge them to set realistic goals and celebrate their progress along the way. Furthermore, teach them that setbacks and failures are opportunities for growth and learning.

Promote Independence and Responsibility

Foster independence and responsibility in an age-appropriate manner. Allow your child to make decisions and take on responsibilities that build their confidence and give them strength.

As Falak Randerian has said,

"Let your children learn and unlearn on their own. Let them fall and stand up on their own."

Similarly, provide guidance and support, but also give them space to learn from their experiences and develop a sense of competence.

A Happy Family

FAQs about Parents Destroying Self-Esteem

1. What are some signs of low self-esteem caused by parents?

Signs of low self-esteem caused by parents can manifest in various ways, including:

  • Self-doubt

  • Fear of failure

  • Excessive self-criticism

  • Seeking constant support

  • Difficulty in making decisions

  • Avoiding challenges or risks

2. What are some signs that a child's self-esteem has been damaged?

Signs of low self-esteem in children can manifest as:

  • Social Isolation

  • Excessive self-criticism

  • Avoidance of challenges

  • The constant need for support

  • Difficulty in accepting praise

3. How can parents promote healthy self-esteem in their children?

Parents can promote healthy self-esteem by:

  • Encouraging independence

  • Providing constructive feedback

  • Offering unconditional love and acceptance

  • Fostering a nurturing and supportive environment

  • Celebrating their child's strengths and achievements

Takeaway from Sheasmother

In a nutshell, parents can either destroy their little one's self-esteem or boost it up. It all depends upon their actions. By constantly comparing their kid to others, neglecting their emotional needs, criticizing them, and excessively over-protecting them, parents unknowingly contribute to low self-esteem.

However, by creating a nurturing and supportive environment, they can motivate their child to embrace their true worth and potential. Therefore, it is said positive and mindful parenting is key to nurturing strong self-esteem and helping children thrive.

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