Where Does Low Self-Esteem Come From?

If you have low self-esteem, it means you have a negative opinion of yourself, often leading to harsh judgments of yourself and negative evaluations of your abilities. It can affect nearly every facet of your life, from your career, to making friends and having relationships. By understanding what leads to losing self-esteem, you can build self esteem in your own children. Here are some of the common causes of low self-esteem that you should be aware of.

Lack of Proper Education

Not having adequate education can lead a child or teenager to start feeling badly about themselves. This is not talking about needing a college degree, though that can definitely improve a teenager's self-esteem. Lack of education starts from early education in elementary and middle school, and on to high school. If a child does not have access to proper education, they may begin feeling ignorant around others who are better educated, and start putting themselves down, which leads to low self-esteem.

Judgments From Parents and Authorities

The person who raises you is someone you look up to, admire, and who you believe when they tell you if you are or are not good enough. Having a parent or authority figure that is constantly putting you down, insulting you, or passing judgment on you, will quickly lead to low self-esteem. This could be in the form of verbal insults or mild criticism that might seem harmless or like that parent is teaching a lesson, but are in fact instilling a sense of failure in the child.

Comparisons Between Children or Teens

Comparing one child to another can be very damaging. This is an unhealthy behavior that needs to be stopped at the source. If you have more than one child, never try to compare the two. Don't pit one up against the other, or criticize one who does not excel in certain areas as much as the other. Instead, focus on both of their strengths and successes. The same goes for comparing a child to their peers, or even a child or teen to an adult.


Many children get bullied at school, so you may not be able to prevent this. However, you can control your behavior if you have a child or teen that is bullied. You may find that without proper support from a parent or guardian, the bullying leads to low self-esteem much more quickly than if they had support. Some children are able to overcome being picked on by their peers if they have a solid support system at home.

These are not all the reasons why someone has low self-esteem, but they are things you are able to control in your own home.