Low Self-Esteem, Low Self-Confidence and Play Therapy

When children have healthy self-esteem and self-confidence they like and value themselves. While everyone lacks confidence sometimes, children with low self-esteem and low self-confidence feel unhappy or unsatisfied with themselves most of the time. This can be greatly helped with play therapy.

Children with high self-esteem feel loved and competent and develop into happy, productive people. 


A child with low self-esteem or low self-confidence might:

  • Be very critical of themselves
  • Downplay or deny their positive quaities
  • Judge themselves to be inferior to their friends
  • Use negative words to describe themselves, such as dumb, stupid, ugly or fat
  • Blames themselves when things go wrong instead of taking into account other things which are out of their control
  • Doesn’t believe people who compliment them
  • Be sad or anxious all the time
  • May avoid trying new things or avoid challenges
  • May cry a lot
Low self-esteem and low self-confidence and play therapy
Low self-esteem and low self-confidence and play therapy

How you can help

  • Praise your child for the effort they put into things, e.g., “you tried really hard on that puzzle” or “you knew just the right way to help that boy”
  • Give them credit for things they know or can do, e.g., “you know a lot about dinosaurs” or “you knew how to fix that without anyone telling you how!”
  • Use reflective listening to when your child is talking about how they feel. Try to avoid helping them see the ‘positive’ side or tell them it will all be ok

How Play Therapy can help

  • Play therapy can help your child ‘play out’ the causes of their low self-esteem and low self-confidence
  • When your child plays through the causes of their issues they will be able to find resolution and healing
  • Through play, they can then practice new ways of being. In time, the practice of having good self-esteem and confidence will be able to be played out in the real world.