Things you do that hurt a child’s self-esteem

A father puts an adhesive bandage on the knee of his 5-year-old boy. [Getty Images]

Parenting is one of the most complicated jobs on earth. Whatever you do as a parent will impact your children’s lives, and this moulds them into who they will become in future. Regardless of what your parenting style is, there are certain habits that can either nurture or break your child’s self-esteem. Children who have strong self-confidence have a better chance of being happy adults, which also reduces the likelihood of low self-esteem issues. On the opposite side of that are children who feel the negative impact of their parent’s parenting. These self-esteem issues are not easy to get rid of, especially if they were rooted in childhood.

It is important to know the habits you need to avoid. 

Hurtful jokes

It is normal for parents and children to joke around. Making light-hearted fun of each other shows the special bond you have as a family. But at the same time, there are certain jokes that could be damaging your child’s self-esteem.

If you know they are sensitive about certain topics like their hair or acne, you should not assume they are okay with being made fun of when it comes to that.


Every good parent pushes their children to be the best. As a parent, you understand the value of teaching your children how to excel because these are values that will benefit them in adulthood.

However, there is a difference between this and pressuring them to be perfect. A parent who is focused and obsessed with being perfect will always harshly criticise their children in almost everything they do.

As your children grow older, they will start to feel like they must always be perfect. They will always harshly criticise themselves and that is exactly what low self-esteem is. Let your children be themselves, do not impose your will on them.


Overpraising is a common trend where parents are encouraged to keep praising their children even when the praises clearly do not match the situation. Although it looks innocent, the fake praises usually breed feelings of inadequacy in children.

When they step into the real world, they will have a hard time figuring out who they are and what they are actually good at. You should support and encourage your children, but do not go overboard in an exaggerated way.


Children naturally crave their parent’s love. Even in adulthood, there is that inner child in us that seeks that love. And while in almost every household we can identify the favourite child, this habit of favouritism can be the root cause of low self-confidence for the child that feels unloved. If you are guilty of showing favouritism, it is time to change.

Overprotective habits

Overprotecting your children is a form of control. You might think you are shielding your children from trouble, but the reality of it all is different. 

Children who have grown up in a controlling household form an unhealthy dependency on their parents, and they also have a difficult time being confident in who they are. Allow your children to experience life for themselves