Increasing self-esteem in young people and children

Self-esteem is a vital part of our lives. When it's good, life is good, and even if life isn't that good, we can cope and work through the issues that arise in a better way. We are in control, we can carry on trusting ourselves and others, believing in ourselves and others, in spite of hitting a wall for a short time.

When self-esteem is hit by life issues such as bullying, neglect from our parents at important times in our development, illness, disability, abuse, and others, it might affect the way we think of ourselves. Our self-worth and belief in our abilities and ourselves will decrease and affect our relationships and our life in general.

Counselling can help with low self-esteem issues.

In adults, it might mean revisiting childhood situations and possible trauma that might not have been worked through but that has affected the person's life until now.

In young people, they are living in that point in time where the trauma is happening at present. So how can counselling help a young person that is going through difficult things right now?

Counselling can help by:

  • Helping the child express themselves through play activities. They might not be able to verbalise what they are going through, and showing the therapist or working on their issues through different types of play - sandplay, drawing, colouring, turn taking, reading books, telling stories - will help gain an understanding of their situation and feelings about a particular issue.
  • Developing a trusting and safe relationship with the counsellor will help the child develop their trust in others in due course. 
  • Increasing the confidence the child has in themselves by allowing the child to make decisions about how their session is going to be and what they want to do with the time.
  • To develop skills and strengths to cope better with their issues and understand them better. 
  • To get the young person to have more realistic beliefs and views about themselves through modelling, and helping with cognitive restructuring and challenging these beliefs and unrealistic expectations of themselves.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a great start to work with children with low self-esteem.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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