Self Esteem, The New “Black”

The boy looked at his mother and said, “I don’t think I can. I usually mess things up.”
In the situation above, the boy is displaying a poor self-esteem which is making him more hesitant to take risks and move out of his comfort zone. Children with low self-esteem not only are reluctant to take risks, but often talk and think negatively about themselves. Via richmondregister.com

children's self-esteem

I did a Google search for the term, self-esteem that resulted in and over 45,000,000 sources for the topic in, only 046 seconds. It’s clear that parents, educators, therapists and the media are directing their attention on building up children’s self-esteem.

What is Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is a personal assessment of your worth and value. You determined your self-worth by evaluating how capable, influential, and worthy you were in different situations. People with high self-esteem are responsible, take pride in their accomplishments and don’t overvalue their strengths or underestimate their weaknesses. They’re proud of their accomplishments and aren’t threatened by the success of others. it’s necessary that you understand the value of helping your child develop positive self-esteem. Because,if your children see themselves as capable, knowledgeable, lovable and competent human beings, they’ll  have a better chance living a happy and productive life. And the good news is, you can be your child’s, self esteem Guru, guiding and helping them develop a healthy opinion of themselves. To help you through the process, I’ve created a series of posts to help you understand how self-esteem develops  and how it can be changed from infancy through adolescence. 

How to improve self esteem

No one is born with a fixed opinion of themselves. You might think that heredity influences self-esteem, but that’s not the case. Children learn how to feel about themselves through their interactions with the significant people in their lives, their family, teachers, and peers. So, if your child informs you that having the same, “big nose” as daddy, is embarrassing, it’s not the nose that’s the problem. Your child’s humiliation comes from how he or she was judged by others, positively or negatively. From comments made by friends or family, children form opinions about their looks. And, their behavior in social situations is dependent on their self-perception. For example, Mary’ feels she’s unpopular because of her big nose, so she seeks out situations that support her feelings. One day at school, Mary sees her best friend, Lucy, sharing lunch with a classmate and decides Lucy doesn’t want to be her friend. Mary begins to feel that because of her looks, no one likes her she avoids talking to Mary and her other classmates.

Building self -esteem

How Do You See Yourself?

The underpinnings for the all the hoopla on self-esteem began in the late 1800’s, (yeah that long ago) when George Herbert Mead, a sociologist developed his groundbreaking theory of, “Social Self”. Until, Mead published his theory psychologists believed that biological factors and inherited traits formed our self-image. But Mead disagreed, and argued that feelings of, “self” developed over time through social activities and experiences. Based on the work of George Mead, Charles Cooley developed, “The Looking Glass Self“. The main point of Cooley’s theory is that significant people in our lives serve as the “mirrors” that reflect images of ourselves. As children, we were treated in a variety of ways. If you, members of your family and other important people look at your children as smart, you’ll tend to raise them with certain types of expectations. As a consequence, your children think they’re smart. For instance, if you believe that your closest friends look at you as some superhero, you are likely to project that self-image, regardless of whether this has anything to do with reality.

“I imagine your mind, and especially what your mind thinks about my mind, and what your mind thinks about what my mind thinks about your mind.” Charles Horton Cooley.

building self-esteem

Parents In The Know

Parenting is a tough job. And we enter the field with no skills or training. As a parent, you need to know what’s what because your family experiences have either a positive or negative impact on your kid’s self-image. Uninformed parents run the risk of living with a child who’s indifferent, disrespectful, and deceitful and lacks warmth and empathy. When you understand your child’s behavior and developmental stages you’ll be a more effective parent. And have a better chance of raising a child who develops into a productive, well-adjusted adult. You’ll know how to create situations that encourage and help your kids develop useful behaviors and skills in the social, academic and moral areas of their lives.

improving children's self esteem

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By | 2017-07-06T11:29:30+00:00 |Categories: Parenting|Tags: , |
  • William Rusho

    Self-confidence is something that is so important. I had a
    horrible speech impediment growing up, I also had a totally incompetent speech
    pathologist at school to help me. I was
    17 and I FIXED my own problem, not him.
    So during that whole time my confidence was shaken. Was not until I was away from the school, and
    in the military that I was able to build it up.

    What a wonderful post and thank you for sharing it.

    • Wow, thank you for sharing your experience; that’s an empowering outcome.

  • This is such an important subject and it is so tricky. You only get one shot and giving your child a strong foundation of self-worth and parents can screw it up without meaning to. When I was a little kid, I was seriously ill. After that point, my parents seriously overprotected me and stopped from doing anything where I might get hurt. They later realized this was hurting my self-esteem which was a shock to them, since they were just trying to protect me. I’m interested to see the rest of the series.

  • I don’t have kids precisely because the precarious situations I faced growing up. I somehow came out super-resilient, but have no idea how or why. As someone who has been around hundreds of ninth and tenth graders as a teacher, I think things can be taken a bit too far in trying to foster self-esteem when all of the focus gets put on positive results that are sugar-coating issues that need dealt with. Self-esteem comes through accomplishment, but being subjected to the right circumstances seems to be so hit and miss. Interesting topic for a series of posts.

    • Getting through any dicey situation will either make you or break you. Kids can be very resilient and it sounds as if you fit that bill. You’re right about, “the positivity”trap. In my upcoming posts I’ll be talking more about the different types of self-esteem.

  • Really enjoyed this post Pamela and I don’t even have kids! Strictly going by my own experience as a kid I agree that self esteem is very important and the earlier a child has that positive sense of self the better because once they hit high school the trolls are out in full force and it can be devastating for those with little or no confidence. Another article I read recently while doing research came to mind about self esteem. In that the psychologist point out that self respect is even more important because self esteem is to hold in high regard while self respect is acceptance of self as we are – warts and all. Personally I think they’re both important. 🙂

    • Thank you Marquita. Yes “self-respect” I’m going to cover the 2 types of self-esteem, outer self-esteem and inner self-esteem, in my next post!

  • Sabrina Q.

    Great post Pamela! I hope I am helping my kids have more self-esteem than I had as a kid. We shall see. Will be sharing this one. Thanks for sharing.

    • The fact that you’re concerned Sabrina is a good sign you’re doing fine : )

  • Beth – http://EncoreWomen.com

    I rreally liked this post and look forward to the other installments of your series on children’s self esteem. Children whose parents don’t nurture it have a tough time getting over it. Although I was discouraged from doing a lot of things and did them anyway because I knew that I could. We’re all different. I love your graphics! Really special. Is the first one a would-be Audrey Hepburn?

    • Yes Beth that’s a Mimi-me Hepburn from.”Breakfast at Tiffany’s” along with a movie quote. Parenting is tough, (that’s my understatement of the day). I think we do the best we can with the tools in our tool box. And boosting Self-Esteem can’t be done with 20 quick tips, I don’t care what the magazines say. And I appreciate your kind words about the images, I love creating them.

  • You’re right Susan, the goal is to help our children find their own sense of power.

  • I’ll be interested in seeing your posts about this. It’s not always easy to identify a child’s self esteem or lack thereof. As parents we sometimes fail to recognize what’s important to our children.

    • Ken, thank you for your interest, I was surprised how popular the subject was. But, I didn’t see information about children’s self esteem relating developmental stages, behavior and discipline.My goal is to inform parents what to expect behaviorally. By knowing what to expect, parents can structure their kids environment more effectively.

  • Phoenicia

    Building your child’s self esteem is important as they will need it as they journey through life. They will receive knock backs, the more resilient they are, the better.

    My self esteem was low as a child. I did not value myself and therefore became an easy target for bullying. Although my mother loved me, she did not instil a great level of confidence in me. It was not her thing to ‘big up’ her children. As a result I rarely felt special.

    Sometimes parents just go with the flow and let their children get on with it. It is our job to identify their likes and dislikes, how sensitive they are and put strategies in place to assist them.

    • It sounds as if you took some negative childhood experiences reframed them to have a positive outcome. That’s wonderful Phoenicia.

  • Catarina Alexon

    Most people have self confidence but low self esteem, unfortunately, which makes them doubt their value. And it applies to people of all nationalities and ethnic groups. Far too many children are told by angry parents that they are stupid or something similar. They hence grow up fearing that they are stupid even if they perform well. To get rid of that kind of low self esteem is easier said than done for most people.

    • It’s true Catarina, those are the people who wind up feeling they’re living a lie. Or, “Some day they’ll find out I have no idea what I’m dong” syndrome.

  • My husband and I were just talking about this last night! We were talking about all the ways low self-esteem can affect you throughout your life and how to help our kids. I’m really looking forward to the rest of this series!

  • I think it is important for children to develop good self-esteem and confidence. I think what that means is often misinterpreted and that’s why parents may struggle to help their child with it. It does not mean thinking one is better than another, gloating or belittling, but being confident enough in one self to try new things, feeling good about your own and other people’s accomplishments. I think it also means being able to accept failure and being prepared to try again.

    • So true Donna, we want our kids to be resilient, capable and productive.

  • I agree with Jacquie. We adopted several special needs children and these children were just floated through the system because it was the easy thing to do and ‘we need to consider their feelings’. One of our boys is dyslexic. When I took this to the school, the teacher said, Oh my yes, he’s the most dyslexic child I’ve ever seen but we didn’t mention it because we can’t make him feel different from his classmates. What a crock, as if he didn’t realize there was something wrong and this not addressing the situation did more to harm his self-esteem than an honest talk about dyslexia – and giving him the needed help – would ever have.
    I think encouragement and support are needed to give a child self-esteem but each child is different and what works for one will not work for another. Parenting truly is the most difficult, yet most satisfying job in the world.

    • Those kids are very lucky to have found you. I’m thinking of developing a second series addressing those families who have unique or special needs.

      • Pamela, I think that is a great idea, not only as a support for the parents who often work in isolation and frequently don’t have the skills, other than love, to give to these kids but also from the child’s point of view. It can’t be easy knowing you are different – and they do, no matter what anyone says – I know for our boys life was very tough at times and we didn’t supply what they needed, only peer acceptance was necessary for that.

  • Jacqueline Gum

    Like everything, I think so many have taken this to the extreme…congratulating kids on things achievements that either aren’t ,or sub-par, or in the effort of building confidence giving the whole team a trophy sort of thing. I view this as being lazy, frankly. Instead of working with a child, why not just say good job even when it isn’t and think that you’ve done the right thing because, after all, you don’t want to “crush their spirit”. Laugh! Wish more parents could approach this practically
    and look at the long term consequence of their actions:)

    …blah blah blah.

    • I hear ya’. Trophies and happy faces don’t cut it when you’re dealing with a 15 year old in Juvenile Detention.

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