One consistent reflection of a healthy child is the level of self-esteem that the child possesses. Many of the at-risk students that are placed in our care at Lakeside have been identified with issues often related to poor self-esteem. These students perceive their world through a lens of insecurity, inadequacy or some form of over-compensation for their perceived inabilities. It takes a great deal of time and reframing to help these students gain the self-confidence and capability to change their self-perception.
So, how does a child grow in self-esteem?
Self-esteem can mean different things to different individuals. As I discuss this topic, I thought I would start by identifying some key concepts that define a healthy self-esteem.
Healthy self-esteem in an individual is characterized by:
- A global self-esteem, or a basic core feeling of being worthy of love and respect, and of being accepted by others.
- A basic core belief that he or she has the competence to survive and live a productive life, has a sense of control over life, and a sense of self-efficacy.
- A realistic view of his or her strengths and weaknesses in areas such as physical ability, intellectual capacity, moral worth and a view of others.
- A sense of self that can adapt to and accommodate new information about self as it becomes available.
- A sense that perfection is impossible. (In other words, the person is not trying to live up to an ideal standard that is impossible to meet and does not have an inflated view of his or her abilities.)
Next time, a look at how fear affects self-esteem
Characteristics of self-esteem seem to be rather difficult to attain for many people. We live in a society that is extremely fear-based and largely insecure. I find that most of us struggle with our self-esteem and are often not sure what to do about it.
I hope in my next few posts to discuss this issue in how self-esteem is developed in our children. We do have the responsibility and privilege to help our children develop into healthy individuals as they grow into adulthood. Hopefully in understanding this process we may have insights into our own world of self-understanding and healthy esteem.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network
Some research taken from Pathways to Competence, Second Edition, Sarah Landy, p. 331.