Parents will often ask themselves what causes insecurity in a child and what they can do to combat negative self-talk. And as the reasonings for why a child might be feeling insecure widely vary, there are some key steps to take when your child begins to show symptoms. Before we discuss what you can practically do to help your child feel emotionally and physically secure in who they are, let’s first unravel common causalities of kids feeling insecure.
What Causes a Child to be Insecure?
When my son turned 8, I saw a large shift in his self-confidence. Up until that point, he never seemed to struggle with things like how he looks, what he’s good at, or whether or not people liked him — he didn’t struggle with insecurity at all.
But the closer he inches towards the preteen and teen years, I’ve seen insecurities develop in him that cause me to want to grab him by the shoulders, shake him, and force him to see how wonderful he is.
Unfortunately, there is no fix it fast solution when your child begins to have insecurities and negative self-talk. As there are SO many factors one can dissect when it comes to discovering what sources are at fault for influencing a child’s self-worth, parents can only do what they can with what they have.
To make it simple, helpful, and speaking from my personal experience, I hope these tips will help you understand your child more, and self-reflect on any negative parenting habits you’ve picked up that could cause your child to be insecure.
Recently, I’ve committed to paying attention to the things I can change that negatively influence my child, especially in how they view themselves.
As most of us parents know, it’s easy to pass on bad habits to our kids, but hard to instill good ones.
If you’ve noticed that your child’s negative self-talk or self-worth is happening more and more, the sooner you address it, the better.
The objective is to figure out WHY they are doing this. As it’s completely human to have insecurities, the depth of that insecurity can be lessened when a child has their parents to talk about it with. It’s also a time for you to make sure you aren’t influencing their insecurities in any way.
Why Parents Need to Figure Out the “Why” Behind the Negative Self-Talk and Insecurities
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could figure out the why behind your child’s insecurities so they can deal with it, and won’t have to live the rest of their adult life struggling as you did?
When you recognize your child is inching towards a cliff of unmanageable self-doubt, go in and save them.
Parents have the most powerful influence on children. Figuring out the “why” will not only strengthen your relationship with your child, it will give you insight to help them navigate through life’s difficulties.
As with any advice I give, I also implore you to talk to God about it. He knows your child more than you ever will. Who better to talk about your kids to than the one who created them.
How to Deal With an Insecure Child – 7 Step Process
1. Assess Your Parenting and Apologize if Need Be
Insecurities don’t just come out of nowhere. There is a source, and making sure that source isn’t you, requires a little self-reflection of your parenting.
Even the best of parents will influence their kids negatively. So don’t read this and feel guilty. It’s my hope that these words can encourage you to see where you can grow for the benefit of your child.
When you can regularly self-reflect on how your parenting is affecting your kids, you’ve already accomplished one of the hardest part of becoming a great parent — humility. But to go even further than that and apologize to your kiddo for failing them? That’s hitting the jackpot.
We can’t take back the things we’ve done to emotionally damage our kids. But we can apologize, and implement change. Not only will this show your child that perfection will never be something you require, but it will also teach them that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to make mistakes. And your mistakes don’t define you.
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2. Have a Conversation About It
After you’ve tackled the initial step — which will most likely include you apologizing to your kids — you can move onto the next, and possibly include it in the same breath as the above step.
So you’re sitting there on the bed with your child, and you’ve apologized for letting your criticism or discipline trump your grace and acceptance of them. Then you realize something. You’ve done all the talking.
Here are some questions you can ask to get the ball rolling in figuring out why they are feeling insecure about themselves.
- Is there something I’ve said or done that makes you not feel good about yourself?
- Do you ever feel like you aren’t good enough?
- Have I ever given you a reason to doubt yourself?
- How often do you have bad thoughts about yourself?
- How would you describe yourself?
- What are your strengths?
- Do you think you have any weaknesses?
- How do you think are you special and unique?
- What do you think I most admire in you?
- What’s your favorite thing about how you look?
- Is there anything you want to change about yourself?
Obviously, you don’t want to bombard them with questions all at once, make it forced, or demand answers. Use your discretion. These are just some ideas for parents to really get down to the nitty-gritty as to why their child is feeling inadequate, while also figuring out if it has to do with your parenting.
If your child answers the question, let’s say, “What are you strengths?” and they don’t know, ask them if you can tell them what you think their strength are.
When listening to their answers, make sure you don’t ask to respond, but rather ask to listen and understand.
3. Teach Them to Forgive Themselves
Guilt can play a huge role in feeling inadequate. If children don’t view themselves as lovable or forgivable based on something they did, it can begin to define them.
How can one have confidence if they don’t think they are forgiven? For our family, this might mean something different than yours. Because of our faith, we have taught our son that he is forgiven for anything he has, will, or will do through the cross.
But it’s also important for us parents to extend our forgiveness, and make sure that our kids know there is nothing they could do wrong to not earn our love, admiration, or acceptance.
One of the best ways children can learn about God’s beautiful forgiveness is when their parents can model it first. If your child makes a mistake, make sure that the overarching feeling they get from the situation is forgiveness–even if a consequence is included.
4. Monitor Their Social Media and Smartphone
In our day and age, parents, unfortunately, have to deal with another element of bullying — cyberbullying. As social media is one of the main ways kids now communicate with one another, it makes it hard for parents to monitor those interactions.
Because society is now more aware of the negative affects social media and digital technology has on our young people, there are many great options for safe and affordable phones for kids. Check out the Pinwheel phone or Gabb wireless. Read my full review of the Pinwheel phone.
Another great way to make sure your kids have good influences is to volunteer at their school, have kids come to your house to hang, and establish a safe environment to have continual conversations regaring digital activity.
If you have fostered an open and honest relationship with your kids, this shouldn’t be hard. But if there is work to be done in your relationship, it could take some time to build trust with one another.
If you can eliminate possible avenues of your child feeling inadequate–which OFTEN comes with social media–then figure out what you need to set in place to make that happen.
5. Make Sure You Are Meeting Their Emotional Needs
I write a TON about this subject. Why? Because emotional connectivity within the family is by far the most important for families to function in a healthy way. Here is a list of my top posts on meeting the emotional needs of your children.
6. Speak Truth to Counteract the Lies
As an adult, I am finally able to understand why I am the way I am in certain areas, whether it was due to how I was raised or the circumstances life brought my way.
When I was in high school, a boy told me my nose was too big; that was devastating for a teenage girl to hear.
Words are weighty when it comes to our perception of ourselves, making it all the more important for parents to speak truths to combat the lies a child might be getting from the outside world.
Check out Word of Affirmation for Boys
7. Make Sure You Aren’t Doing or Saying These Things
Some kids are more sensitive than others. But I honestly believe that we are all sensitive–some of us have stronger filters or hide the impacts better.
That’s why we have to be EVER so careful with what we say to our kids. I once heard of a father who gently told his overweight daughter that maybe she shouldn’t put so much cheese on her food. She eventually starved herself and didn’t make it.
As that is an extreme example, and one that doesn’t give proof of other factors, it still can help us understand the weight of our words, especially as parents.
Check out – Things You Should Never Say to our Child and 3 Ways Parent Unintentionally Emotionally Damage Their Kids to get more in-depth info on this subject.
Positive parenting tools for every parent
Screen Time Protection and Teaching Moderation
I’ve recently partnered with Bark, a software to supervise, manage, and protect your child’s device use on the go. Use the code WORDBIRD at checkout to get an additional 1-month free trial after your first initial 7-day trial!
Screen Time Checklist Printable for Kids – FREE if you sign up for our weekly newsletter. Just fill out your info below.
Book List for Kids and Parents
Check out my recommended books for parenting.
Book list to teach kids about racial diversity.
Journaling for Kids
When a child is old enough to start drawing, coloring, or writing, journaling is an incredible way to help your kids better express themselves in a free and comfortable way. Check out our Kid’s Printable Journals — created specifically to help children better express their feelings, encourage gratitude, and spark the imagination.
Chores for Kids
Magnetized Chalk Chart for Fridge
Implementing chores and structure in your child’s daily life is a VERY helpful tool to teach them follow through, discipline, and respect. We use this chore chart in our family to help our kids keep track of their own progress, and keep you from having to constantly remind them of their daily tasks.
If you’re looking for something a bit more simple, this is also a good option.
Chore Chart Printable – Get it NOW from the convenience of your own printer
If you’re looking for something you can print out immediately and start implementing chores in your home today, check out this CHORE CHART PRINTABLE. With a Mandalorian theme, it makes for a lighthearted and fun way to encourage kids to do their daily and weekly “missions.”
Emotional Connectivity with Your Kids
Connecting on a deeper level emotionally with your child is CRUCIAL, and sometimes more difficult. We play THIS GAME often in our family to create a safe space for our kids to feel free to share their questions and emotions, all without judgment.
We even offer an “Exemption Time” for the duration of this game, where anything he tells us is off the table for consequences.
Check out these other posts on emotional connectivity on the blog!
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