Ordinarily, self-esteem during childhood is generally relatively high. However, there are individual differences and some children experience feelings chronic feelings of low self-esteem. The causes of low self-esteem in tends to be generally categorized as external or internal. An obvious one is how a child experiences physical punishment and the withholding of love and affection by parents. This often occurs in normal families where parents may have done nothing that would ordinarily produce this kind of reaction.
Currently, we are seeing children who seem to have a fairly high level of self-esteem in the early years but as they get older, it seems to drop. Some recent research suggests that some children are praised so frequently by well-meaning parents that they have an unrealistic understanding of their capacities. When they encounter the world outside of their home, they run into realities that are surprising and for which they are unprepared.
Children with low self-esteem often rely on coping strategies that are counterproductive such as bullying, quitting, cheating, avoiding etc. With others, we may see significant mood reactions such as sadness, depression, and anger. Although all children will display some of these behaviors occasionally, low self-esteem may be a causal agent when these behaviors appear with regularity. Socially some children with low self-esteem may be withdrawn or shy, and find it difficult to have fun. Although they may have a wide circle of friends, they are more likely to yield to group pressure. At school they may avoid trying new things and will give up easily.
Low Self-Esteem in Adolescents: Self-esteem often declines during adolescence, particularly for girls. Researchers have explained this decline as related to body image and other issues associated with puberty. While boys’ self-esteem tend to drop in adolescence but seldom to really severe levels. Typically, they may utilize drugs or alcohol. Being defiant or underachieving academically.
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