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Children With Low Self-Esteem

Children with low self- esteem are more likely to be bullied. Studies have revealed youth who are bullied are at greater risk of anxiety, depression, loneliness, unhappiness and low self-esteem.

According to Children who have low (or poor) self-esteem tend to be associated with more negative outcomes in their lives. Youth with low self-esteem do not feel like they have many positive, worthy characteristics and may feel ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, sad or angry about themselves. Because of this, they may believe that they do not deserve basic things like food, shelter, love, time respect or dignity from others. They may behave in negative, self-defeating ways that end up confirming their poor opinion about themselves.

For example, they may convince themselves they aren't smart enough to pass a math test. Because they believe they do not believe themselves capable of earning a good grade, they do not put much energy or effort into preparing for the test. They may also anxiously dwell on thoughts about how badly they're going to perform. They then fail the test, more as a result of lack of sustained study effort, and anxious preoccupation than due to an actual lack of ability. This failure then is interpreted, incorrectly, but with great emotional "truth" weight as further proof that they are indeed bad at math. Further efforts at learning math are then discouraged in the wake of the failure experience. This type of negative feedback cycle of self-defeating thoughts and behavior is sometimes referred to as a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Youth with poor self-esteem are less likely to be happy, and more likely to have emotional and social problems than are their higher self-esteem peers. Lower self-esteem children are less likely to persevere through tough situations, because they assume they lack the ability to be effective in difficult circumstances and so give up too soon. They may be more likely to become victimized or exploited by others, because they do not strongly believe they deserve to be treated well, or because they believe they lack the capabilities necessary to better or escape from their situation.


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