- Why Important
- What is Self-Esteem or Self-Worth
- Symptoms of Low Self-Esteem
- Developing Proper Self-Esteem or Self-Worth
- How to Nurture Self-Esteem in Children
I. Why Important
Proper self-worth or self-esteem is important for growth and maturity.
Low self-esteem is often rooted in fear and negative conditioning
during childhood, and affects the development of one's potential as
a person. One loses self-confidence in dealing with the challenges
of life, is easily discouraged by difficulties, and feels unhappy
Lack of self-worth is one of the causes why young people become bullies
and delinquents and get into crime, drugs, and gangs.
It's so easy to pick out the children who lack the gift
of self-esteem. They're the bullies on the playground, the underachievers
in school, the kids who get taken advantage of. They are our high-school
dropouts, the kids who can't say no to deadly drugs or inappropriate
sex or a ride with a drunken driver or an invitation to join a gang."
-- Steven Vannoy, The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give My
"Self-esteem is the best gift any parent can give
-- E. Hartley-Brewer, "Positive Parenting"
II. What is Self-Esteem or Self-Worth
Proper self-esteem is not vanity or boastfulness, but mature acceptance
of one's capacities and limitations.
"Positive self-esteem is not the intellectual acceptance
of one's talents or accomplishment. It is personal self-acceptance.
Developing positive self-esteem is not an ego trip. You are not in
love without yourself in an egotistical sense. You simply realize
that you are a truly unique and worthy individual; one who does not
need to impress others with achievements or material possessions.
In fact, the person who constantly brags and boasts has one of the
classic symptoms of negative self-esteem."
-- Dr. Robert Anthony, Total Self-Confidence
III. Symptoms of Low Self-Esteem
- Lacks self-reliance and self-confidence --
Tends to be insecure and dependent on other people; does not believe
that he/she can do something, hence does not dare; afraid to be humiliated.
- Aggressive -- paradoxically, a person
with low self-esteem can be aggressive in trying to win because they
need to prove themselves to others.
- Feels guilt -- Because he/she has often
been blamed for something, there is a feeling of constriction and
- Feels depressive, and feels that one is a failure
--The extreme form is tendency for suicide. Says Dr. Robert Anthony:
"People who commit suicide are not trying to escape from the
world, they are escaping from themselves; the self they have rejected
and learned to despise... . Their problem is low esteem."
- Feels that other people don't like him or her
-- Because of previous experiences of being put down by parents
or elders, he/she generalizes such experiences and suspects that most
people do not like him/her. Hence they tend not to have close friends,
or be loners.
IV. Developing Proper Self-Esteem or Self-Worth
- Realize that every individual is unique --
Persons with low self-esteem often compare themselves with others
and feel that they are unworthy. They are too self-conscious about
the judgment of other people. It is vital to realize that each one
of us is unique and we grow at our own pace. Each soul has unlimited
potential and our task is the realization of this potential.
- Develop inner awareness -- Be aware of
the programming done upon you by your parents, teachers, elders, etc.
and choose to discriminate which ones are harmful and should be transformed.
Be aware of your fears and objectively look at their roots. Go into
periods of silence or meditation to develop this awareness.
- Choose a small goal and achieve it -- Large
achievements are really composed of small achievements. Choose a small
one, and after you have achieved it, you will develop a better opinion
of your own capability.
- Do your best and accept the fruits of your effort
-- To expect that you can or should do what others can do is
to be unfair to yourself.
- Be aware of your Divine Potential -- Within
you is the Divine Potential that is present in everyone else. It is
unlimited, and awaits your discovery.
V. How to Nurture Self-Esteem in Children
- Learn to really appreciate their positive qualities
-- Every child has some good and strong points. Start by making
a list of admirable qualities of the child. You may be surprised.
- Express your appreciation of their positive qualities
-- Give sincere praise. Even saying that you like their ideas
is already a boost. Laughing at their jokes is another one.
- Love them unconditionally and spend time with
them -- Giving them your time tells them that they are loved
and valued. When possible, spend time alone with each one, and do
with them what they like to do. This can work wonders.
- Really listen to them -- It shows how important
they are. It reaffirms their self-worth.
- Trust and respect them -- Give them responsibilities,
and give allowance for mistakes. Allow them to do things by themselves
and avoid doing it for them whenever possible. This develops their
own confidence in their own capabilities.
- Avoid deprecating remarks (put-downs) --
Such remarks can injure self-image deeply and can damage the future
of the child. Examples: "You are really dull and slow."
"You're very clumsy." "I can't trust you." When
correcting the child's faults, point to the behavior and do not belittle
the child himself or herself.
- Develop your own self-esteem -- Low parental
self-esteem has been found to be one of the major causes of low self-esteem
Some exercises for children to develop Self-Esteem
From Linda and Richard Eyre, Teaching your Children Joy
- Ask a group of children to sit around, with one of them in the
middle. Ask each one to say something that he or she likes about a
child sitting in the middle of a circle, such as "One thing I
like about Anita is that she is always very neat."
- Ask children to play the game called "I can't do this, but
I can do this." Ask them to think of something they cannot do,
and then say something they can do well. You start by saying something
like this: "I cannot whistle, but I can play the piano."
- Discuss with them what is meant by the word "unique." After
discussion and sharing, tell them that is what makes them so
special and important -- because "you are the only one just
"If you have self-esteem, you are happy to
be you and you believe in your intrinsic value as a unique individual.
It therefore involves having a positive self-image and an accurate
-- E. Hartley-Brewer, Positive Parenting
"If I could give my child no other gift in the
world, my top choice would be self-esteem."
Vannoy, "The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give My Children"
When you give love messages, you're boosting your child's
self-worth. When you focus on their strengths rather than on their
weaknesses, their self-esteem can only rise. When you teach through
questions rather than telling, they find the world of their own creativity
and talent and abilities they might otherwise never have discovered
-- Steven Vannoy, "The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give
No matter how many of our children's teachers or friends
- or eventually, therapists - acknowledge their value, our
children's real sense of self-worth initially comes from us, their
parents. -- Steven Vannoy, "The 10 Greatest Gifts I Give My