Message from a 9 year old
"What causes low self esteem?" Good question. It probably starts in childhood. Most parents want so much for their children to be successful, that they tend to be critical of them when they're not living up to expectations. I think that has the counter effect and sends a message that the child is not good enough.
If parents were able to find the good in every attempt that their child makes, and reinforce that, I think more people would grow up feeling confident in their own abilities. Take my grandson, for example. He is 9 and just completed the 3rd grade. In teaching how our government works, his teacher set up an election.
My grandson is very shy, but he decided to run for Class President, even though he had to give a speech, and even though he believed he wouldn't win. He said "a lot of people are running and the other kids like them better than me." But he told his mom he was going to run anyway.
His mom was so proud of him; she told him it isn't winning that's important, it's trying. She didn't reinforce his fears that he couldn't win, but she also didn't criticize him for having them. She validated his feelings and told him she believed in him. So he wrote a great speech and won! He surprised even himself.
It's a lot like that here at WA, isn't it? We might be a little afraid to try, because we are a little bit afraid it won't work, or that it won't work for us. But, if we don't try, we definitely won't succeed. I may have a fear of failure, but the very best way to fail is to quit. So don't quit! I might surprise even myself!