School is the place where students from different socioeconomic backgrounds come, saddled with their insecurities, and at a distance from their parents’ protective shield. It is the space where youngsters from secure families, who excel academically, in sports, or have a winning personality are juxtaposed with other youngsters who are still discovering their talents. The idea of what is “cool” or “uncool” is defined based on one’s appearance, what they bring in their tiffin box, how well they speak English, or their physical appearance. Though there is greater awareness of concepts of body positivity, youngsters, especially teens, can be quite judgemental.


Can we blame the children?

Not entirely, because the idea of comparison with others is fed to them by their parents, teachers, mass media, and society. Also, most youngsters are not given the right exposure parents and teachers also carry the baggage of preconceived ideas which they transfer to the children. So, when a child is judged, the first person to blame will be the grownups around them (including parents, siblings, relatives, and teachers) and then their peer group.

Understanding inferiority complex

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines an inferiority complex as “a basic feeling of inadequacy and insecurity, deriving from actual or imagined physical or psychological deficiency.” Inferiority complex, mostly develops in childhood due to invalidating experiences that lead the subconscious to harbor negative thoughts which in turn result in isolation problems.

Clinically, an inferiority complex is defined as low self-esteem and children suffering from its display traits such as-

  • Insecurity
  • Inability to reach goals
  • Distance from interesting activities
  • Easily giving up
  • Assuming the worst
  • Distract from studies
  • Struggle to express the feelings
  • Feeling the need to withdraw in social situations
  • Experiencing anxiety and depression
  • Being sensitive to criticism
  • Not taking compliments seriously

Overcoming inferiority complex

Though there will always be lingering effects of inferiority complex in a child even after they become adults, a supportive environment can always help them work on themselves and recognise their self-worth. It will require concerted efforts on the part of parents and peer groups to help a child regain their self-confidence. Attitude change at home, school, and in friends’ groups is important to help a child reconsider their importance and recognise their capabilities. While it will be difficult for parents to stop projecting their fear of the future on their children, they can get guidance and counseling that will help them review their children’s circumstances and how their behaviour is impacting their psyche.

Finding a safe space for the child

When a child is suffering from an inferiority complex, parents can pick up hints from their mannerisms and the feedback given by the teachers at school. The child’s hesitance towards being left in any form of the social situation by themselves is also an indicator of their lack of self-confidence. These are red signals and parents must get help for the child and find out what is triggering this low self-esteem.

Often, the inability to cope with the rigours of school life may be overwhelming a child emotionally. Luckily, since NEP 2020, children have had greater alternatives that will help them learn in a conducive environment and restore their self-confidence. NIOS help or unschooling for 1 year can help the child discover their talents and give them confidence in their abilities. The normal education system seeks a one-size-fits-all model of schooling. However, different children have different capabilities and when a child is allowed to pursue their true passion and work on areas where their talents lie, they automatically regain confidence and are motivated to attempt new things.


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