According to the American Psychological Association, an inferiority complex is a basic feeling of inadequacy and insecurity, deriving from actual or imagined physical or psychological deficiency, resulting in behavioral expression ranging from the withdrawal of immobilizing timidity to the overcompensation of excessive competition and aggression.
In simple terms, an inferiority complex can be defined as chronic low self-esteem, says Dr. James E. Maddux, Ph.D. psychologist and author of Subjective Well-being and Life Satisfaction. He also adds that with an inferiority complex, you blame yourself for everything and develop a negative self-image. Not only this, you engage in intense self-criticism, which lowers your self-esteem even more.
When such behaviors are prevalent, you become biased against yourself. As a result, you develop self-sabotaging tendencies and thought patterns that prevent you from moving ahead freely in your personal and professional life. You buckle down under the pressure of constant inadequacy, which can further give birth to many mental disorders.
According to Dr. Aron, when you feel that you are not as good as others, you are likely to experience anxiety in many life situations. Further, experiencing anxiety can itself make you feel even more anxious and trigger your self-sabotaging behaviors. All this leads to a vicious cycle. Not only this, a large-scale meta-analysis of 77 prior studies published in the journal Psychological Bulletin has shown that low self-esteem plays a significant role in the development and maintenance of depression.
So, dear parents, if you have the slightest doubts about your child having an inferiority complex, it's time to take action and help him get rid of it. Otherwise, he may get exposed to troubling mental health conditions and unfulfilling life in the future. But, caring parents, you don’t have to engage in worrying. Nothing will happen to your child, even if he has an inferiority complex. Just a few simple steps, and you can pull him out of low self-esteem and help him cultivate high self-esteem.
Now, let’s discuss some simple signs that will help you identify inferiority complex in your child:
Angry outbursts are a common sign of inferiority complex in children. If your child gets angry frequently and engages in aggressive behaviors or actions, that might indicate an underlying problem. He may have some self-sabotaging beliefs about himself, and something that you said might have fueled those beliefs and triggered him. So, next time your child gets engaged in an angry outburst, you should try not to get angry at him for being angry. Rather, you should keep your calm, comfort your child with a warm embrace, try to calm him down, and ask him if something is bothering him. This way, you’ll get access to his inner world.
Lack of self-esteem may make your child feel that he isn’t good enough. The burden of these feelings may so disturb him that he may lose his interest in commonly enjoyed activities and withdraw completely. You may also find him engaging in procrastination even when it is about activities that he used to enjoy. So, if you notice such a loss of interest in your child, it’s time to talk to him with love and look into the issue.
If your child is no longer as playful as he used to be, or he spends most of his time lying in bed, or he complains of constant exhaustion, he may have developed an inferiority complex. When you live with an inferiority complex, you experience extreme feelings of inadequacy. As a result, you don’t feel like facing the world or society. You engage in constant self-sabotaging thought patterns which drain all your energy. So, lack of energy may be a red flag that your child has an inferiority complex.
Those who have an inferiority complex usually compare themselves with others constantly. They do so unconsciously to find a sense of superiority. If your child also has the habit of comparing himself with others and then feeling lowly about him, he may have developed an inferiority complex.
When you have an inferiority complex, you try to do everything with perfection. This represents the subconscious effort you make to eliminate feelings of inadequacy and not being enough. If you find your child struggling to do everything with absolute perfection, it’s time to talk to him and find out why he wants everything to be perfect?
Low self-esteem breeds self-doubt. As a result, many children with an inferiority complex seek constant validation from others like you (their parents) and their friends to get reassured that whatever they did or said was correct. If your child also seeks constant validation from you, it might be a red flag that he is battling an inferiority complex.
Kids who have an inferiority complex find it hard to accept their mistakes. This is because those little souls are already suffocating inside because of low self-esteem. They already think that they are not enough. Mistakes strengthen these feelings of inadequacy. So, by not accepting their mistakes, children try to prevent themselves from experiencing the existing pain of inadequacy repeatedly.
If you can spot some of these signs in your child, then he may be suffering from an inferiority complex. But, don’t worry, it isn’t something that cannot be treated. There are some simple ways through which you can help your little one get rid of an inferiority complex and live a life of fulfillment. Let’s discuss them one by one:
This is one of the most important things that you need to do to help your child get rid of an inferiority complex. You should appreciate him for who he is. For example, if your child isn’t good at studies but is excellent at music, you should praise him for his talent. This way, you can help him develop confidence in himself and give a boost to his self-esteem. Not only this, but you should also express that you are proud of your child and you love him just because you love him. You don’t need him to get excellent grades to get your love. He is loved as he is. Such things will give a significant boost to his self-esteem and help him overcome his inferiority complex.
In most cases, an inferiority complex breeds in a child when he feels guilty for his mistakes. Most of us make mistakes, regret for some time, learn the lessons and move on. But, in the case of an inferiority complex, you identify yourself with your mistakes. You carry them as a part of your identity, like getting stuck with your mistakes and never moving on. So, to help your child get rid of an inferiority complex, you’ll have to help him see mistakes in a new light. You’ll have to allow him to make mistakes and not criticize him for that. Rather, you’ll have to keep a comforting hand on his shoulders and tell him that everyone makes mistakes. There is no need to feel guilty about every little mistake, but it is important to learn the lessons they bring and try to avoid committing the same mistake again. That’s it!
When we learn something new, our self-confidence naturally gets a boost. If your child has an inferiority complex, he may avoid trying new things because of the fear of failing. But, if you hold his hand, assure him that failures happen to everyone and they are just the stepping stones to success, he’ll definitely feel better. You can even add that we fall a hundred times before learning to walk, and it is completely okay to fall. Such assurance from your side will give your little one the confidence to try something new without hesitation. So, just hug your little one today and take him on the journey of learning something new. You can teach him cooking, swimming or anything else that might interest him. Believe me, once your child witnesses himself succeeding in his learning endeavors, he’ll slowly come out of his inferiority complex.
One of the biggest mistakes that most parents make is to compare their child with someone else. We do it unconsciously without realizing how our words can break our little one’s confidence and make him feel inferior to others. Maybe we learned it from our parents when they compared us with others. But, it's time for us to bring a change in the world of parenting. Children are susceptible. They can carry every word we say to them in their minds for life. So, it is essential for us not to compare them with anyone. Rather, we should appreciate them for their uniqueness and set them free to be who they truly are.
Do you know what your child needs the most to overcome his inferiority complex? It’s your love. You have to strengthen your relationship with your child to such an extent that he knows that you’ll always love him, and he doesn’t have to do extraordinary things to win your love. Once he develops this confidence, he’ll naturally bid adieu to the inferiority complex and start moving ahead on life’s journey with high self-esteem. Further, you can develop a strong relationship with your child by expressing your unconditional love for him every now and then, appreciating him for all that he is, being open with him, sharing your experiences with him, listening to his experiences, and engaging in all similar activities.
An inferiority complex may make your child withdraw from everyone. The feelings of inadequacy may stimulate him to avoid playing with other kids of his age. But, when your child is exhibiting such behavior, it is crucial for you to hold his hand with love, assure him that you are there for him, and take him outside to play with other kids. Make sure that when your child engages in play, you stay nearby. This will make him feel safe. Once you come back home, you should also tell him all the wonderful things that you noticed about him when he was playing. For example, you can tell him that you are proud of him for helping his friend when he fell down. When your child listens to such things regularly, he’ll gradually come out of the inferiority complex and start living his life with confidence.
When your child develops an inferiority complex, self-doubt weighs him down. As a result, he lacks the confidence to solve problems on his own. He always looks up to other people to help him find the solutions. To help your child get rid of an inferiority complex, you’ll have to help him regain confidence in his ability to solve problems. For this, you should encourage him to solve problems on his own whenever he comes seeking a solution from you. Let us say that your child comes to you and asks should he water plants in the morning or the evening? Then, rather than answering his question, you should first ask him what he feels that he should do? If you feel that his solution is correct, give him a pat on his back and tell him that he is smart and doesn’t need your help. If you feel that he should do something else, then you can tell him that what he says is fine, but there is another option that he may try. This way, you can give your advice to him in a manner that doesn’t hurt his self-esteem.
An inferiority complex may take a significant toll on your little one’s joy and happiness. If left untreated, it can also expose him to various mental disorders like anxiety and depression. So, it is crucial for you to identify the signs of inferiority complex in your child early on and take suitable steps to help him get rid of it. Now, wishing you All the Best and blessed life ahead!
About the author: Jessica Robinson is an epitome of creativity. She has dedicated her life to educational writing and works for ‘The Speaking Polymath’. She has been creating magic with her powerful words for over a decade