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My son thinks he’s dumb and has super low self esteem,

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My son thinks he’s dumb and has super low self esteem,


My son thinks he’s dumb and has super low self esteem,

My son is one of two male twins aged 13 1/2 and just started high school year 7 in 2021. He has always had anxiety and low self esteem. He’s never felt he was smart, and it doesn’t help that his twin brother is quite academic and diligent. My anxious son pegged himself the ‘dumb’ one awhile ago. He is so anxious that he has found it hard to concentrate at school and is subsequently now quite below average year 7 level. He needs to catch up! He is smart though, and great at sport. Lately I have noticed that he is messaging/focussing on girls and finds it hard to regulate what he says. And it takes awhile to stop sending consecutive messages pleading and putting himself down so bad! If he feels rejected he will say he’s going to Kill himself and highlights how he “hates himself and always mucks everything up for everyone..) etc. He really feels that way I think. He’s seen 2 or 3 psychologists over the years and has a good one now. But I can’t afford for him to go more than around once a month. He is now getting very aggro and rude to me. Refusing to help me anytime I ask and being so abusive and mean it is hard to take! He speaks to me so disrespectfully and is at times downright rude and mean. I’m just out of quite a verbally/emotionally relationship (didn’t live with us) and I get triggered by my sons intense targeted rudeness. He also argues and fights me every time I tell him to put his screen (computer, phone, etc) away. He argues about seeing his tutor, doing homework so intensely with accompanying rudeness and insults that it wears me down. My question here is what are ways to boost his self esteem? I feel like self loathing and lack of trust in himself is at the heart of much of his current aggression toward me. It’s so full on at times! He won’t talk to me about any of his feelings etc. What do I do? After seeing these messages where he puts himself down sooo much- I’m really worried.

Re: My son thinks he’s dumb and has super low self esteem,

Katie D, I feel our pain, good job reaching out. Can you get any support through your son’s school? Is his behaviours also occurring at school? If not he maybe bottling up his anxiety until he gets home and then in his safe place he loses control. Make contact with your school’s welfare coordinator, they are there to support your son and your family. You are not alone, it is important that you look after yourself being emotionally strong allows you to be the best parent you can be for your child. So breath you are doing your best. Your post is identical to what is happening to my 131/2 year old grandson, who now has support at school to manage his anxiety, which was resulting from a learning difficulty dyslexia.

There are some free podcasts to help you to best support you son’s emotions, Sue Larkey and Tony Attwood are good they are designed for students with learning difficulties. But the advice is valuable on meltdowns and oppositional behaviours.


Regards Deb 


Re: My son thinks he’s dumb and has super low self esteem,

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Hey @KatieD 

This must be a very tricky situation for you and your boys, I can really feel how much you care about your sons and want the absolute best for them Heart It would be horrible for your son who experiences anxiety to be feeling like the "dumb one," and I'm sure very hard to avoid making those comparisons to his brother. I think something that can help everyone, not just young people, with their self-esteem is to meaningfully celebrate who they are and their achievements. You said that he is smart and great at sport, could there maybe be a way to celebrate this together?

It would be very worrying that your son has said that he will kill himself when he feels rejected, I understand he is seeing a psychologist at the moment that he likes, is this something you could discuss with them? Psychologists are often very helpful in teaching young people strategies for managing their distress and handling issues like rejection with self-soothing, would be great to have their support around this. 


@Debzzz suggestion of contacting the school is a great one, schools can often be really helpful in situations like this with providing a bit of extra support or referrals if needed. Is that something you are interested in looking into?

We have this article about teenagers and confidence which you might want to have a look at, there is also this article which has some practical tips to try on helping your teen build their self confidence. I hope this is helpful Heart