7 Yr. Old Self Esteem Issue

Updated on March 01, 2010
L.J. asks from Gardner, KS
9 answers

my daughter is 7 and in 2nd grade and is constantly complaining and having a bad attitude, especially twords herself. She says things like "you don't like me" or If I say good job to her younger sister and she hears it she thinks she is not doing a good job. she constantly says things like"people don't like me or people think I am wierd" I do not know where she gets this from I tell her I love her and she is beautiful everyday several times. I know she is having problems at school with other kids and have talked to the principal about her being the target of bullying, but I do not think she does anything wrong, she is so sweet and quiet and is nice to everyone. I just think she needs confidence to stand up for herself I would appreciate any advice on how to help her build confidence and self-esteem before it gets worse
thanks so much

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answers from Wichita on

My daughter turns 7 next month, is in first grade and does EXACTLY what your daughter is doing. Sophia has had some OCD issues for several years (repeating I'm sorry, hand washing, etc) and she has anxiety (unreasonable fears like what if the store closes while we are here, etc. She is a very kind and loving child in part because she is always worrying about other children.
She is a twin which makes it even harder because if I compliment her sister she and not her then I don't love her.
I don't have much advice, just commisserating and telling your our story :)
Sophia has been seeing a psychologist since June.I am not seeing as much progress as I would hope but what I have seen is that by having an adult ask her more probing questions she is much more aware of her feelings and able to communicate them than other girls her age. I am hoping that as she matures she will be able to learn more coping skills.
I can tell already that my girls blow off what I say because I'm "just their mother". One of the things the psycologist said is to find something she enjoys. She doesn't have to be good at it, just enjoy it. For her that is writting songs, poems, stories.
You can't just say "your beautiful". You have to say "you were very nice when you shared your toys" "you wrote very neatly on your paper" etc. She says "Do you still love me". Of course I say "I will always love you no matter what". But, I think she gets the message more when my husband or I argue and she says "do you still love dad?" and I ask "do you still love your sister when you fight?". She knows she does so that helps her to learn that you can have conflict, resolve it and still love each other through it all.
She says "I don't like being fat". I used to say, you aren't fat but that didn't work. Now I tell her mom is bigger than the other moms, her dad is taller than the other dads so she will probably be bigger than the other kids. she doesn't like it but I am hoping she will accept it.
Sorry I'm rambling. I feel your pain. I wish I could just give her a happy pill to take away all her worries and fears but I can't.
Another thing we talk a lot about is CHOOSING your friends. My daughter is always drawn to the kids who want to shun her. We talk about who is kind or makes her feel good about herself. She says "I don't want to hurt their feelings" (that's the girls who are mean to her). So, we talk even more ;) about how she shouldn't exclude kids but she can pick who she jumps rope with at recess.
Good luck!!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I had the same concern with my 7yo (I thought we wouldn't have to deal with this stuff until Jr. High!). She mentions that sometimes her "friend" doesn't let her play with her at recess and people say mean things to her, etc. So I enrolled her in Girl Scouts, which I THINK is helping-- she seems to be as important in that group as anyone else.

Also, just this weekend, we invited 2 girls who are in her class and in her GS troop to come over and play for a few hours at our house. My theory was that if my daughter got to know a couple other girls OUTSIDE of school, she would feel more a part of the group AT school. So maybe you could ask your daughter if there's anyone at school that she would like to get to know better, and invite her/them to come over to your house, or on a special outing (to a play place or pool, etc.). I talked to the girls' moms in order to invite them over, and even confided in the moms that I thought my daughter was having trouble relating to people at school and thought that interacting with their daughters in a much smaller group would help my daughter. The moms were very understanding-- I think everyone remembers what it was like to feel out of place. So my advice is to find out from your daughter who she likes at school, and put a call in to their moms. Good luck with everything!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I had a similiar experience with my 13 year old daughter. She started being teased at school in the 1st grade through 5th. She felt like her brother and sister outshine her because He is the star of every sport he plays and gets straight A's is popular as is her little sister. We had a long talk about being happy her siblings are good at things then I pointed out all the things she is great at that they can't do. After trying sport after sport, music lessons,We finally found her nitch and it is drama and art.I had no clue! She is an amazing painter and actor. My daughter is now in the 7th grade with an improved self esteem she even came home and told me how kids were picking on this girl on the bus. I reminded her how she felt all those years kids teased her and told her I bet if you stick up for her those kids will stop, Yesterday she came home and told me it worked kids are being nicer and she felt good she helped someone. Its tough watching your kid in pain being teased at school and suffering from low self esteem especailly when you know how wonderful they are! Keep reassuring her,try to find something she is great at and likes! maybe sports,dance,drama. I know the recreation center by our house offers fun classes to take like cooking,crafts! I started with that! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Well, I'm pretty sure that you can't change her self-esteem anymore that what you're doing. So keep up the support! Maybe what she needs is to feel good at something. Writing, playing an instrument, a sport, fashion...anything. You may have to pick her brain a bit, try a few different things...those feelings of confidence come from the inside. She'll have to build those herself...you just help facilitate that!


answers from Dallas on

It sounds like youa re doing the right thing by giving her your support.

My now 15 yr old was in the last semester of 1st grade when we finally found an activity she actually liked. On a whim, after trying soccer, gymnastics, etc, she asked to sign up for a martial arts class with a friend. It so happened that martial arts was her thing. She thrived on the discipline, structure and her confidence soared.

In 2006 she achieved her black belt after years of study and practice. It is one of the best things she ever did. She is a confident young woman, she knows how to defend herself if necessary and she learned discipline, perserverance and tools that are valuable to her.

It might not be the right thing for you but I thought I'd throw that out there. Good luck.



answers from St. Louis on

sometimes when you repeat phrases/praise, they seem empty to the person receiving them. Or 2ndhand thought. One example would be: I am overweight, have been my entire life. I absolutely HATE when I reconnect with someone & hear, "OMGosh, you look great. You've lost weight!" For me the conversation ends right there....because I know the truth: yes, I look good, I'm confident, but I also know that I've put on another 5lbs. That other person immediately loses all creditability with me. (I'm insane, I know it, I embrace it!)

I definitely see a need for your daughter to promote her own self-esteem & confidence. As was mentioned by some of the other posters, find an activity which will allow your daughter to excel & blossom. For my older son, it was Cub Scouts & fishing with his Dad. For my younger son, it's been sports & Scouts....& religion school of all things! He's now in Jr High & is involved in clubs M-TH....& is just thriving! Good Luck.



answers from St. Louis on

Even a 7 year old will know they are special if they are given the opportunity to BE special. Let your daughter volunteer at a nursing home (adopt a grandparent for her) to read to a patient, rub hand lotion on those old hands, listen to THEIR stories or tell them her own. A child knows sincere appreciation and will feel good by doing good for someone else. For her next birthday, she could have a party where all the toys are brought unwrapped, shown around, and then wrapped and given to a shelter for the homeless children. There are many ways a child's self-esteem can be boosted by being self-less towards others.



answers from Amarillo on

I agree with Meg...I think you should help her explore new things to find something she is good at or likes enough to try to be her best at. My six year old son began having self-esteem issues and feeling like he was not good at anything this summer. I think it was because he was playing sports and he was not as good as some of the other kids and it was something he noticed and felt like he wasn't good enough. After that, it seemed like his attitude changed and he would get mad/sad easily and down on himself. It was really hard for me to see him this way because he was always such a sweet and happy child prior to this. I just couldn't take it so I did my best to build help him build his self-esteem by bringing out and emphysizing things that he could do well. At first, he still would say things like "anybody can do that" or "other people can do it better", but I kept at it and now he has a pretty healthy amount of self-esteem. He still has times when he gets down on himself, but for the most part I think it is a lot better than it was. He seems a lot happier and secure in himself and that makes me happy. Telling them that we love them and giving them compliments do go a long way in helping them feel safe and loved, but in my experience a lot of their self-esteem comes from their own accomplishments and feeling like they can do things independently and well. I hope this helps.



answers from St. Louis on

We rented the new movie from American Girl (dolls) called Chrissa. It is an excellently made movie with a superb story - about bullying. Chrissa is polite and kind and new to the school. The movie addresses her getting bullied, her friend being bullied and the bully. I was so impressed that I am buying that movie. I plan to twist the arms at school and get them to show it to the kids and I am showing to my Daisy/Brownie Girl Scout troop. I think it is vitally important that kids understand from a young age, that it is NOT ok. I work with people and it's always interesting to deal with those people who were the school bully - as adults. They are not all they thought they'd be! :-) But anyway, this is a wonderful movie and I think your daughter will like it. It's well done and the message, while powerful, isn't over done, it's a great, great movie. We just rented it at the Family Video store. (my daughter is 6, almost 7 and she has these phases too. She hasn't been bullied, but she has sensitive feelings and is so kind to others, that she easily gets hurt feelings.) Also, keep writing those notes to school until your fingers fall off - I feel it's the schools responsibility to STOP bullying and unkindness. Kids can't learn when that is happening.

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