Why Do Girls in Elementary School Have Low Self Esteem?

By Candice Coleman
Problems with peers can cause low self-esteem in elementary school girls.
Problems with peers can cause low self-esteem in elementary school girls.

The elementary years are a time for forging friendships, bonding with teachers and enjoying the playground. For some girls, these years can also involve the development of low self-esteem. Other problems, like depression and anxiety, can also surface because of self-esteem problems. Knowing the causes of your daughter's low self-esteem can help you turn the problem around.

Appearance and Image

As puberty draws closer, exposure to the media and changes to your daughter's body can lead to low self-esteem and poor body image, according to the Center for Young Women's Health. Remind your daughter that people come in all shapes and sizes and talk to her about the skewed view the media presents. It is important to model a healthy attitude toward your own body, because your daughter will pick up on how you feel about your own features. It may also be encouraging to help her write a list of her five favorite personal physical features. Getting plenty of exercise, eating a nutritious and balanced diet and finding clothes that make her feel confident and comfortable can also boost her self-esteem.


Teachers, parents, coaches, religious figures, friends and acquaintances can play a role when a girl develops low self-esteem. Frequent criticism by parents, feeling left out by friends, receiving negative feedback from a teacher or upheavals in a family's life such as divorce or death can contribute to girls feeling bad about themselves, according to KidsHealth.org. Learning to keep criticism constructive, and issuing praise to match, can help your daughter see both her strengths and weaknesses, as can showing love, caring and understanding.


Many people derive pleasure and self-esteem from their achievements, and children are no exception. A girl who is discouraged from tackling challenges, told that she cannot complete certain tasks or hindered from making progress in other ways may develop low self-esteem, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Parents should try to give positive feedback as their children try to complete obstacles. Failing at something can be a life lesson and should not be a reason to prevent children from trying something new. Instead, help your daughter see that failures can be beginnings rather than endings and help her remember her strengths and how she can use them.

Additional Information

Low self-esteem may be a combination of several factors, or you may not know what is causing the problem at all, according to KidsHealth. If you are concerned about the way your daughter views herself, talk to a pediatrician or counselor about what you can do to help. Girls may also adopt a negative self-view as a result of seeing their mothers do the same. Changing your attitude about yourself could help your daughter change her attitude about herself.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.