How to Help Your Child Overcome Inferiority Complex
Guest Post By Jessica Robinson
From a young age itself, children start facing comparisons. They are often told that they need to be like someone else. Of course, the intention of teachers and parents behind these comparisons is not wrong. In the best interest of a child, they want him to inspire by others and inculcate the best habits. However, there is a downside of these comparisons as well. When everyone else is comparing a child to his peers, the child also starts comparing himself to others. At times, he is convinced to believe that others are better than him and he starts to feel inferior. This is what an inferiority complex looks like and your child may be caught in this dilemma that he is not good enough. Before moving forward, let us decipher what an inferiority complex is in detail.
The science behind inferiority complex
Going by the definition laid down by the American Psychological Association, an inferiority complex is a state of mind characterized by the feeling of insecurity and inadequacy. This may be driven by a real or imaginary deficiency in physical or physiological terms. For instance, a child who is color blind may feel a sense of inferiority from his fellow classmates. He may feel that because of this real deficiency he is inferior to this classmates. To cite another example, a child may feel inferior to others on the basis of grades or the fondness of teachers. This will be a case of physiological inferiority that is not based on any actual deficiency. Psychologists in contemporary times suggest that this phenomenon is synonymous with low self-esteem.
So as parents, it is important that you are able to identify the signs. If your child is self-victimizing himself because of his perceived inferiority complex, he needs help. Inferiority complex can be one of the major causes of stress. This inferiority can potentially translate into depression or other severe mental health issues at a later stage. It may also impact the cognitive development and learning capabilities of a child. Of course, even you would not like to carry an incessant feeling of inferiority within you. It is going to impact your mental and psychological health at some point. So, imagine how hazardous it can be for young and naive children who are still comprehending the world. In this post, we explore the various actionable ways in which you can help your child. With strategies listed in the subsequent section, you can pull your child out from the abyss of inferiority. Before that, let us shed light on some identifiable signs of an inferiority complex.
How to identify an inferiority complex in your child?
To be able to help your child, you first need to be sure of the problem. In many cases, children will avoid confessing such negative feelings. But as long as you are aware of the signs, you can offer help. The following signs and symptoms can help you to recognize if your child is battling inferiority.
- Negative behaviors, self-cursing
- Avoidance of eye contact
- Portrayal of under confidence
- Perennial self-criticism
- Social anxiety or reluctance to socialize
- Blaming it on the fortunes every time
- Unnecessary comparison with friends, siblings, or classmates
- Frequent expression of embarrassment
After having evaluated the signs of inferiority complex in children, let us now look at worthwhile solutions. The following section includes the ways in which you can help your child feel confident again and regain his self-esteem.
How to help your child regain his lost self-esteem
1. Promote self-sufficiency
Children low on self-esteem have major doubts about their ability to complete tasks on their own. But by promoting self-dependence in your child, you can boost their confidence. People who are low on self-esteem strive to find self-worth in life. Being a parent, you can help a great deal here. You can give them subtle yet important tasks to complete on their own. They may be nervous to take the responsibility at first. You have to inspire in them the confidence that they must try and you will look after it if anything goes wrong. It could be a task as small as caring for the kitchen garden in the backyard or completing homework. Every little act that makes them more self-dependent will stimulate self-esteem in them. Everyone feels good about completing tasks in a successful way, isn’t it? It does a world of good to our confidence. Your child needs that same confidence gushing through him. There are hundreds of ways to encourage self-sufficiency in your child. It is up to you how to promote independent learning and self-sufficiency in your child.
2. Don’t be over-critical of their actions
If your child is struggling with self-esteem issues, he is already too critical of himself. So, you should not be adding to that already overwhelming criticism. You should avoid being over the top critical of your child’s actions. Even if you are pointing out their mistakes, you can do it in a subtle way with the purpose of educating them. You have to be more supportive in nature. You have to make them realize that mistakes are a part of the learning process. They should not be critical of making mistakes but of not learning from mistakes. In this way, you can help them have an acceptance of their mistakes. They will not be unnecessarily critical of themselves and will accept their imperfections better. You have to inspire them to chase excellence and master introspection rather than perfection. Perfectionism can be a major cause of inferiority.
3. Promote mindfulness
Mindfulness and meditation are among the best answers to any form of negativity. As per Clinical Psychology Review, mindful practices enhance optimism and decrease stress. Further, it helps individuals deal with anxiety and aggression. It also helps in building resilience in children. Needless to say, optimism is the perfect response to the negativity triggered by the feeling of inferiority. However, children may find it difficult to meditate on their own. Given that, such mindful practices should become a part of the everyday culture at home. The entire family can meditate together like it prays together and eats together. In this way, you can model meditation for them and teach them to practice it in an effective way. It will build your child’s resilience to negative thoughts and he will feel better.
4. Appreciate initiatives and efforts
Extend appreciation to your child wherever due. If your child is full of self-doubts and criticism, appreciation will work as an anti-dote. So, you should appreciate small efforts and initiatives coming from your child. Even you like to be appreciated in your workplace, right? It changes your morale for the better and adds to your performance. In a similar way, appreciation works for children. When they receive appreciation even for the slightest things they do, they find their motivation to achieve big. The self-worth they are looking for will be fostered by your appreciation for them. From cleaning their room to completing their assignments on time, you can find many reasons to appreciate them. You have to appreciate their effort to get used to the new normal in education in this pandemic. As long as they are taking initiative, the situation is much under control. When their initiatives find recognition and destiny, it will be a great boost to their self-esteem.
5. Make them believe in their uniqueness
While your child is finding more reasons to believe how others are better, you should change the flow of things. You have to rather help your child with being self-aware. You know your child in an outright way and you know what his strengths and uniqueness are. You have to make your child believe in the idea that he is unique and talented in his own way. For instance, he may not be the best student in mathematics but maybe the best sprinter in the class. You have to help your child to realize his strengths and how he can draw motivation from them to achieve other realms. Every child is different and has special qualities or abilities in his own way. While your child is generalizing things from the purview of an inferiority complex, you have to shift the focus to individuality. Once your child starts to believe in his individuality, the traces of inferiority will stand defeated.
6. Support their passion
You may be comparing your child to other students on the basis of academic performance. But what if your child’s passion lies somewhere else? What if your child wants to become the next Lionel Messi or Enriques? When a child’s passion is suppressed and there is undue pressure to only focus on academics, it can make the child feel inferior. You have to realize what your child aims for in life. You need to identify his passion and support it. You can tell them that you will back their passion but they need to maintain the right balance with academics. This encouragement will be priceless to them. They will feel positive about things and will engage themselves in classroom activities as well as their passion. It is true that no one can understand your child as you do. You ought to leverage this advantage in the most worthwhile ways. Set your child free to chase his dreams. He would then not even have the time to feel inferior to someone.
7. Model self-comparison
One thing that the world needs to understand is that comparisons with others are baseless. The only competition you should have is with your own self. Rather than caring about what others are doing, you should focus on yourself. You should strive to become a better version of yourself every day. Furthermore, you should model the same for your child. You have to make it noticeable to him how you look to improve every day. They need to know that your comparison is limited to your version of yesterday and how you have advanced from there. Children need to know that their journey and life are different. The only valid competition is the one they have with themselves. But they may be too young to understand this on their own. Given that, you have to teach this vital reality to your child and model the same for them. You are their biggest inspiration and most charming role model after all!
To encapsulate, an inferiority complex may be a common occurrence in children these days. This is because they are dreaded by the growing intensity of competition that is presented to them. To them, life is often explained as a race and they begin to believe that those who come second will reach nowhere. If you can identify such negativity or feeling of inferiority in your child, you should discuss it with them and try to address it. If it remains unaddressed, it can soon turn into despair or depression. The above ways will facilitate your pursuit of helping your child overcome his inferiority complex. The key is to boost their confidence and self-esteem. As their self-esteem grows larger, the feeling of inferiority will start fading away