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What Kind of Disorder is Inferiority Complex & What are their Types? | Ways to Improve Self-esteem in Children

Many people, including children, experience inferiority complex. Knowing about it can help in overcoming it. This article discusses what kind of disorder inferiority complex is, its types and ways to improve self-esteem in children.

What Kind of Disorder is Inferiority Complex?

What Kind of Disorder is Inferiority Complex?

A complex developed within oneself due to lack of self-esteem is called inferiority complex. It is not a disorder. It is a state of mind that can to some extent help some people to lead a normal and healthy life. Inferiority complex is transformed into a disorder only when it occupies one’s mind completely without being just a stimulant. In a severe feeling of inferiority, the person is unable to show the required development. In such situations, the inferiority complex cannot stimulate a person to perform a useful activity.

If you are wondering, what kind of disorder inferiority complex is, you need to know that it is just a feeling and not a disorder. However, if the feeling that oneself is inferior to others keeps on increasing, it can lead to other undesirable emotional problems.

Experts believe that people as well as children who experience guilt, shame or such feelings that make them inferior to others can increase their risk of depressive disorders. Depression is a complex disorder characterized by low mood, low energy, the feeling of worthlessness or hopelessness, also a feeling of guilt or other self-conscious moral emotions.1

What are the Types of Inferiority Complex?

Experts have classified inferiority complex into two main types:

Primary Inferiority Complex: It can be seen in small children and it is casual. The children depend upon others for almost each and every activity. Even the physical condition does not support to be independent as they are usually weak when compared to elders. Due to this reason, most of the times, they are helpless. All these contribute to feeling inferior in childhood.

This feeling is sometimes amplified under the following situations when the children are:

  • Compared with other siblings
  • Matched with their classmates or schoolmates or with the children of their age group
  • Criticized always
  • Abused for not reaching the expectations either academically or in any other field
  • Made to seek permission for each and every small thing which they want to do
  • Not allowed to work independently
  • Made to do only what their parents or elders tell
  • Discouraged for everything
  • Having poor learning abilities
  • Unable to motivate themselves

Growing age. The males and females in their teenage years can experience inferiority complex because of physical appearance and some biological changes which would make one different from the another.

Secondary Inferiority Complex: It is a condition usually found in adults where they suffer from feeling low. Adults feel low when they are:

  • Compared with others by romantic partners
  • Not able to reach their goal in life
  • Not having secured feeling
  • Depressed or having a history of depression
  • Continued with the same feeling from childhood as a result of the primary cause
  • Unable to reach the desired socioeconomic level
  • Physically challenged
  • Stammering
  • Under stress
  • Unable to make a decision in doing the work in their order of preference

Effect of Inferiority Complex in Children

Inferiority complex can have far-reaching effects if it exists beyond what is necessary to motivate. As the child grows, the discouraging situation, if continued can develop into a psychological disorder. Moreover, this is a symptom in many disorders like personality disorders, schizophrenia and mood disorders. Some people suffering from an inferiority complex in schizophrenia use delusion trick to defend themselves.

Inferiority complex, if used constructively and controlled in time, can result in an excellent performance in the related field or can also lead to becoming a rebellion in a healthy society. Even some people lie between these two categories.

However, when people face continuous or over discouragement they can become harmful to themselves. The low esteemed people may become depressed and unable to handle the situations in the right way.

Solutions for Inferiority Complex

It is necessary to pay attention to developing children by providing them a healthy environment. Also, for children or people known to have an inferiority complex, it is necessary to have a positive environment around them. It is the responsibility of the people around the sufferers to provide a suitable environment to make changes in their behavior. Also, the children make the future world, hence they should be raised in a way that they become confident and not fall prey to an inferiority complex.

Therapists can help in dealing with such problems. They counsel and support their patients to come out of such a negative feeling. They assist the patients to manage the memories of their past life, which might have hurt them a lot and made them feel low.

A psychologist does a great job in helping the patients understand the unique gifts they are having in their life. They encourage the patients to think in a different way and help them to transform their negative strokes into positive ones so that the feelings would support to achieve more.

A psychologist or a psychiatrist can support the patient to list their responsibilities and then make any changes in the order of priority. This would help the people who feel inferior. Completing things according to their preference make them feel confident and being positive.

Some group therapies including workshops on personality development can be helpful to get rid of the low self-esteem in children. Such therapies encourage healthy co-ordination and co-operation among the peer group.

In some cases, the patients are made to change the place so that they get a new environment, new people and new situations which would help in recovering faster. Sometimes, when nothing else works, psychotropic medications work to end this problem. A doctor or a psychiatrist works as a therapist and also a psychologist. They give the medicine as well as to conduct counseling sessions for the patients.

A friend with positive thoughts can be supportive to create a healthy situation by spending more time with the sufferers.

Ways to Improve Self-esteem in Children

Knowing how to improve self-esteem in children can help parents and caregivers work towards their goal. It is the responsibility of the parents and the people who live with the children to develop self-esteem in the children so that they are more confident and create a strong and secure society in the future.

Some of the effective ways to improve self-esteem in children include:

  • Avoid comparing with the peer group or with others.
  • Make the children understand their unique qualities and appreciate them.
  • Encourage the children to do some activities on their own, which would not hurt them and within safety limits.
  • Encourage independent decisions and be there with them only if they need guidance
  • Parents or caregivers can sometimes discuss the problems with the children to give solutions, which help them to think new ideas.
  • Allow children to explore the things relevant to their ages and field of interest.
  • Avoid the use of negative words such as ‘NO’, ‘NEVER’, ‘NOTHING’ etc.
  • Elders can follow different ways to encourage the children doing some things in a positive way.
  • Discussing ideas for some problematic situations with the children can help them to expand their thinking capacity.
  • Advising for each and every step in their life make the children depend upon elders for everything which is expected to stop.
  • Instead of correcting the mistakes of the children and giving advice, there are different ways to make the children understand their own mistakes.
  • A good number of opportunities can be provided to the children to correct their mistakes.
  • Parents and family members should be friendly.
  • Usage of negative and harsh words at home should be stopped, which would impact on the school and also in society.
  • Help them cultivate a feeling of satisfaction with what they have.
  • A little inferiority complex is to be left unchanged which makes the children come up in life acting as a stimulant.

Healthcare professionals and counselors work towards creating awareness on this issue. Awareness to educate people to raise their children in a positive way and making them confident is to be created. Workshops can be held by the professionals regarding educating the people about developing self-esteem among the children.

Children need to be exposed to new situations to cultivate the habit of suggesting proper ideas. It is essential to stop taking advantage of the innocence of the children and holding them responsible for the things which were not expected to happen. Proper counseling by an expert in the proper time for teenagers to know about the biological changes and ways to manage would help them to develop self-esteem which is most essential in their age.


Inferiority complex at the right time in right level can result in progress. So, the transformation of a hurdle into a stepping stone to success is to be done by the people who have a low feeling. People around the sufferers also have a great role in developing self-esteem in both sufferers and in children. Various ways to improve self-esteem in children need to be used to help them. Overall, the children who are the future generation must be brought up in a healthy and positive way so that they would also be confident; have self-esteem and build up a strong society.


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 12, 2023

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