Jennifer Love Hewitt has made a conscious effort to treat herself with kindness after inadvertently making her young daughter question her own looks when she overheard her mum in a moment of self-doubt.

The Ghost Whisperer star wasn't feeling her best when she uttered the body criticisms, but she was horrified to discover seven-year-old Autumn had heard her - and taken her words to heart.

"One particular afternoon.... I was not at my strength at that moment, and I said something degrading about myself and my appearance, maybe what my weight was or whatever, and I didn't know that my daughter had heard it," Hewitt recounted on America's The Drew Barrymore Show.

"But later on she was like, 'Hey Mummy, you said something not so nice about yourself,' and it instantly kind of hit my heart in a really strange way," Hewitt shared.

"I said, 'Yes, I did,' and she said, 'Well, if you feel that way about yourself, and I look like you, do you feel that way about me too?'" she recalled.

The question made Hewitt break down in tears after realising how damaging her own self-confidence issues could be for her little girl.

"I took a minute... and I went around the corner and just started sobbing uncontrollably," she confessed.

"It was the first moment as a mum of a daughter that I realised, 'Oh wow, I have a responsibility that is more profound and bigger than I even possibly imagined, and it's that I have to be good to myself, I have to be kind to myself, because she's listening, and she does look like me, and I do want her to grow up and love herself at any moment," the actress divulged.

"It really taught me something really profound," she added, "and ever since then I've been really conscious about what I say and what she knows that I think about myself, because I want her to feel good about who she is."

Jennifer shares Autumn and son Atticus, five, with her actor husband Brian Hallisay, who she wed in 2013.