10 Strategies for Building Self-Esteem in Your Child with Anxiety

Photo of Caucasian male teen wearing a flannel hoodie with his hands in his pocket looking up towards the sky while outside. Photo could represent this teen feeling anxious and needing online solution focused brief therapy in Illinois or Florida for his anxiety.

Kids and teens feel worried and anxious about a lot of things these days. And anxiety can definitely do a number on your child’s self-esteem. Thankfully there are ways you can help your child feel better and more confident.

In this article, I’ll discuss some root causes of anxiety and how anxiety affects your child’s confidence. Finally, I’ll share some useful strategies for helping them build self-esteem.

What Causes Anxiety in Kids and Teens?

There are several potential causes of anxiety in kids and teens. It’s often a combination of factors rather than a single cause. Some common causes include:


Anxiety disorders can have a hereditary component, so kids and teens may be more likely to experience anxiety if there is a family history of anxiety disorders or other mental health conditions.

Environmental factors

Stressful or traumatic events such as divorce, moving, the loss of a loved one, academic pressure, bullying, or abuse can contribute to the development of anxiety.

Excessive pressure and expectations

High expectations from you, teachers, or society can lead to increased stress and anxiety in your child.


Kids and teens who set excessively high standards for themselves may experience anxiety when they perceive that they are not meeting these standards.

Learning or attention difficulties

Struggling academically or having difficulty concentrating can lead to anxiety, particularly in situations where performance is being evaluated (e.g. test anxiety).

Social factors 

Peer pressure, social rejection, or difficulties in making friends can contribute to anxiety in your child.

Biological factors

Certain imbalances in brain chemicals and hormones can contribute to anxiety disorders.

It’s important to note that not everyone who experiences one or more of these factors will develop an anxiety disorder, as individuals vary in their susceptibility to anxiety.

Also, it’s normal for kids and teens to experience some anxiety at certain developmental stages. It becomes a concern when anxiety significantly impacts their daily life and functioning.

How Does Anxiety in Kids and Teens Affect their Self-Esteem?

Anxiety in kids and teens can have a negative impact on their self-esteem. Here are some specific ways:

Negative self-perception

Anxiety can cause your child to have negative thoughts about themselves, thinking they are inadequate, incompetent, or flawed. This negative self-perception can lower their self-esteem and reduce their confidence.

Avoidance behavior 

Anxiety often leads to avoidance of certain situations or activities that trigger anxiety. By avoiding these situations, kids and teens miss out on opportunities to develop skills and talents, leading to a reduced sense of mastery and competence, further damaging their self-esteem.

Social isolation

Anxiety can make your child more socially withdrawn, as they may fear judgment or embarrassment. This isolation can hinder their ability to form relationships and support networks, leading to feelings of loneliness and lower self-esteem.

Comparison with others 

Anxiety can lead kids and teens to constantly compare themselves to others and feel they don’t measure up. They might perceive others as more confident or successful, further lowering their self-esteem.

Negative feedback loop

Anxiety often brings about physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat, sweating, or trembling. These physical symptoms can make kids and teens feel self-conscious and worry that others notice their anxiety, resulting in a negative feedback loop of increased anxiety and decreased self-esteem.

Academic performance

Anxiety can impact a child’s ability to concentrate and perform well academically. Struggling in school can lead to feelings of incompetence and lower self-esteem.


Anxiety often goes hand in hand with perfectionism, where kids and teens have exceedingly high expectations of themselves. When they inevitably fall short of these unrealistic standards, their self-esteem takes a hit.

Emotional well-being

Anxiety can also lead to feelings of sadness, frustration, or anger. These negative emotions can further impact self-esteem, as kids and teens may blame themselves for their inability to control their anxiety or emotions.

It’s important to note that anxiety and self-esteem are closely intertwined and can create a vicious cycle. Addressing anxiety through therapy, support from loved ones, and teaching coping skills can greatly help improve self-esteem.

10 Strategies for Building Self-Esteem in Your Child with Anxiety

Building self-esteem in a child with anxiety requires patience, understanding, and consistent effort. Here are some strategies that can help:

Provide unconditional love and acceptance

Make sure your child knows that they’re loved and valued for who they are, regardless of their anxiety. Show them that their worth is not tied to their performance or achievements.

Focus on strengths and achievements

Encourage your child to recognize and celebrate their strengths, talents, and accomplishments. Help them see their unique qualities and the positive contributions they make in different areas of their life.

Set realistic goals and expectations

Work with your child to set achievable goals that are within their control. These goals can be small and gradual, allowing them to experience success and build confidence.

Encourage positive self-talk

Teach your child to replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations. Help them identify and challenge their negative thoughts and replace them with more realistic and positive ones. Remind them to be kind to themselves and focus on their strengths.

Foster a supportive environment

Create a safe and nurturing environment at home where your child feels comfortable expressing their feelings and fears. Encourage open communication, active listening, and empathetic understanding. Promote healthy relationships and discourage comparisons or competitiveness.

Acknowledge and validate their feelings

Let your child know that it’s okay to feel anxious and that their feelings are valid. Acknowledge their fears and provide reassurance that you are there to support them. Help them understand that anxiety is a normal human emotion and that many people experience it.

Encourage problem-solving skills

Teach your child problem-solving techniques to help them manage their anxiety. Help them break down their fears into manageable steps and guide them in finding solutions or coping strategies. This empowers them to take control and builds their self-confidence.

Celebrate effort and perseverance

Focus on the effort your child puts in, rather than just the outcome. Praise them for their hard work, resilience, and determination to overcome their anxiety. This helps them develop a growth mindset and understand that mistakes and setbacks are a natural part of learning and growth.

Provide opportunities for success

Offer your child opportunities to engage in activities they enjoy and excel at. Whether it’s sports, arts, academics, or any other interest, providing them with chances to succeed boosts their self-esteem and helps them feel competent and capable.

Seek additional support if needed

If your child’s anxiety is severe or continues to hinder their self-esteem, consider seeking professional help. A therapist specializing in anxiety can provide your child with practical tools and coping strategies as well as validate their strengths and resources.

In conclusion, building self-esteem in a child with anxiety is essential for their overall well-being and development. By employing these ten strategies, you can create a supportive and nurturing environment that enables your child to thrive.

Keep in mind that self-esteem is not built overnight, but rather through consistent effort and patience. By acknowledging their accomplishments, encouraging their strengths, and providing them with love and understanding, you can empower your child to overcome their anxiety and build a strong sense of self.

Begin Online Therapy for Kids and Teens with Anxiety in Illinois and now Florida.

Photo of Caucasian female teen wearing a green hoodie, smiling, sitting at a desk directly in front of a computer screen with her hands in the air as if the middle of a conversation with someone on the screen. Photo could represent an online therapy session with her online solution focused brief therapist in Illinois for her teen anxiety.If your child or teen is struggling with anxiety, including panic attacks, there is hope! Anxiety is highly treatable and online anxiety treatment at Briefly Counseling can help.

Using Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, I help kids and teens reduce their anxiety and build resilience so they can become a happier, more confident version of themselves.

And kids love being able to receive counseling from the comfort and privacy of their own home. Studies have consistently proven that online therapy delivers equal results to in-office counseling.

As an experienced and caring therapist, I love providing counseling for anxiety. To start your child’s counseling journey, call me at 224-236-2296 or email Helena@BrieflyCounseling.com to schedule a FREE 20-minute consultation.

Helena Madsen, MA, LCPC is the founder of Briefly Counseling. I specialize in providing online short-term anxiety treatment for kids and teens ages 7 – 18 as well as Christian counseling.

Whether you’re on the North Shore, in Naperville, Chicago, Champaign, Barrington, Libertyville, Glenview, or downstate Illinois, I can help.

And effective 2024, I am now licensed in Florida! For parents in Jacksonville, Pensacola, Destin, Crestview, Coral Gables, Weston, Parkland, Naples, Marco Island, and Pinecrest, I have immediate openings.

Schedule your appointment or consultation today. I look forward to working with your child to quickly and effectively help them in activating their strengths, resources, and resilience, in order to live with confidence and hope.