Parents will often ask themselves what causes insecurity in a child, why they are insecure, and what one can do to combat negative self-talk. As the answer to these questions vastly apply to a certain situation, there are some key steps to take when your child begins to show symptoms of insecurity. Read further to find out what you can do to help your child feel emotionally and physically secure in who they are.

How to help your child feel emotionally secure

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, I decided to compose a small handful that are of utmost importance in my book.

One can get lost in the deep dark reasons why one is the way they are. 

To make it simple, helpful, and speaking from my personal experience, I hope this list 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. 

After you’ve done that, check out this list, and hopefully, after you’ve completed the steps, you and your child will have more grace, understanding, and unconditional love for one another. 

How to Deal With an Insecure Child – 7 Step Process

how to help a child with negative self-talk

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 for them, 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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how to help an insecure child

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 quite 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. 

Now, one of the more important aspects of parenting and teaching your kids to listen and be respectful is to listen and be respectful to them first. 

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.

how to help your child with insecurities

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. 

how to help your insecure child

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. 

The BEST way to do this is by using a parental control software on your child’s device. Some might say this is intrusive or shows your children that you don’t trust them. But what’s the alternative? I’d rather have my child protected from a world of hurt than worrying if I’m going to offend them somehow. 

I don’t suggest allowing your child the use of a smartphone or tablet unless it has parental control attached to it.

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, or have a simple conversation with them about it. 

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, this might look differently. 

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. 

how to deal with negative self talk in kids

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. 

Raising an Mentally Strong Child in Mentally Unstable World

Emotionally Strong Kids Have Parents Who Ask Them These 5 Questions Daily

How to Improve Your Relationship With Your Teen/Preteen

Emotionally Healthy Families Do These 7 Things Daily

how to help a child who is too hard on themselves

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. A lot of it depends on what my parents did or didn’t say to me growing up. Sometimes, it’s another circumstance entirely.

When I was in high school, a boy made fun of me and told me my nose was too big, and it scarred me for life.

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

What a Girl Needs From Her Mom

5 Things a Boy Needs From His Mom

All Sons Need This From Their Dad

how to help your insecure child

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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Author

Hillary Gruener is a wife, mother, writer, and musician. If she's not at her desk writing content on family life, she's adventuring the world with her husband and two boys.

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