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Your Little Guy's Self-Esteem: 6 Ways to Help

“Be a man.”

“Suck it up.”

“Boys don’t cry.”


“You throw like a girl.”

From a young age, comments like these affect the way that boys see themselves. Often, parents worry about the self-esteem of their girls, but it’s crucial to remember that boys are criticized as well. Whether in school, at home, or in other places, male stereotypes begin to form a child’s idea of what a “man” should be.

Self-esteem, previously thought of as an adolescent’s issue, has now been established in children 5 years of age (Cvencek, Greenwald & Meltzoff, 2016). Research dedicated to the preschool-age population provides some insight as to why this may be.

In one study, children and their daycare teachers completed questionnaires regarding boys’ self-esteem. Boys who overrated their cognitive abilities were more likely, one year later, to be perceived as having problems with social skills, aggression, and delinquency. This makes sense, as peers are likely to reject boys who consider themselves to be smarter than they really are. This peer rejection may lead to forms of aggression to obtain what they want. Another possibility is that boys overrate themselves not because they think they are smarter than their peers, but instead because they feel less secure in their abilities and therefore compensate by overrating themselves to appear more socially desirable (Mathias, Biebel & Dilalla, 2011).

But…why is this important? How does this connect?

To be told what a “man” is and to not meet those standards can