The Effects of Low Self Esteem on ChildrenAruna KalicharanPsychology of Infancy and Childhood (DEP 2000), Section 01 Professor Lisette M. Saavedra April 24, 2001 What is Low self-esteem? In most cases, children with low self-esteem feel that the important adults and peers in their lives do not accept them, do not care about them very much, and would not go out of their way to ensure their safety and well-being. Negative self-esteem is related to low self-confidence, insecurity, underachievement, anxiety, depression, acting-out behavior, sleep problems and being a loner (Yarnell, 1999). During their early years, young children's self-esteem is based largely on their perceptions of how the important adults in their lives judge them.
The extent to which children believe they have the characteristics valued by the important adults and peers in their lives figures greatly in the development of self-esteem. Low Self- Esteem is the underlying cause of most cases involving: fear, anxiety, anger, panic attacks (self-esteem attacks), dependence and lack of assertiveness, depression, eating disorders, domestic violence, teen and gang violence, addictive behaviors, relationship problems, child-abuse, social anxiety disorders, avoiding personality disorders, and dependent personality disorders. Self-esteem includes the feelings and thoughts that we have about ourselves, how component we feel, and how optimistic we are that we can succeed (Brooks, 1998). What is the impact of Low Self- Esteem on Children? Once low self-esteem is formed, the fear and anxiety that accompanies it affects everything a person does, says, and thinks. Many who have low self-esteem avoid seeking new jobs, initiating relationships, or learning new skills for fear of rejection or failure. Many avoid social setting and refrain from sharing their opinions for the same reasons.
Some isolate, become people please rs, and remain passive. Others get aggressive and cause havoc in their relationships. All people with low self-esteem sabotage their lives to some degree. When people with low self-esteem do something they perceive as stupid or inappropriate, they instantly feel humiliated and suffer from "self-esteem attacks" (Sharma, 1999).
At these moments they desperately want to run and hide, though this is often not possible. They may plummet into depression and devastation, episodes that may last minutes, hours, days, or even weeks. Afterwards they feel even more embarrassed to face the people who they think are aware of their problem. Anger problems, domestic and teen violence have at their core low self-esteem. The most effective and lasting treatments is that of a combination of working to improve one's self-esteem along with learning techniques to manage anger. All too often, however, when people seek therapy of enter into anger management classes, self-esteem is not even discussed.
The emotional causes of low self-esteem are due to the child having insecurities about their appearance and ability. Low self-esteem is associated with emotions by many factors. A child who is abused may suffer from low self-esteem. That child may suffer physical abuse or mental abuse, either way, this is a cause of low self-esteem.
Emotionally, low self-esteem affects a child's development in many ways. If the child is insecure about his / her mental ability, then the child will not be confident in himself. This may cause the child to be easily embarrassed and shy. That child will also withdraw from their peers and become isolated.
Adolescence is a time of various changes. These changes are all part of puberty, and for most adolescents this brings on a sort of embarrassment over their bodies growing and maturing process. The physical cause of low self-esteem may stem from puberty. Physically, low self-esteem may affect a child because he or she might not be secure about themselves, physically. Children and adolescents with low self-esteem are more likely to have problems with peers (Hym al et al.
, 1990). Furthermore, they are more prone to psychological disorders such as depression (Button et al. , 1996; Garber, Robinson, & Valentiner, 1998). They are also more likely to be involved in antisocial behavior (Debow, Edwards, & Ippolito, 1997). Also, they are more likely to do poorly in school (Marsh & Yeung, 1997). Low self-esteem is formed in childhood as a result of negative situations the child experiences such as having parents consistently take the side of others against the child or having their feelings ignored and discounted.
Also, being blamed for the parent's current problem or being threatened with abandonment. How can we help children develop a healthy sense of self-esteem? According to Le Crone (2001), security, significance and confidence will help children feel more secure about themselves. For parents, helping their child feel lovable and capable, the two ingredients of self-esteem are feeling loved and capable. Parents can foster this in many little ways everyday. It is important to the child that the parent listens, takes his or her feelings seriously, and spends time alone with their child. They can also show their respect and support by allowing their child to make decisions, respecting their child's possessions, and expressing love with words and hugs.
As children grow older, they begin to discover that they have special talents and interests. Parents can help by providing opportunities for children to experiment with different activities. Children who enjoy sports might be encouraged to try out a variety of activities such as soccer, basketball, softball, or swimming. An interest in music might lead to piano lessons or church choir. The focus is to explore a variety of interests while trying not to overdo any one thing at a particular time.
Childhood should be a relaxed, stress-free time for discovery and experimentation. Parents can play an important role in strengthening children's self-esteem by treating them respectfully, taking their views and opinions seriously, and expressing appreciation to them. Above all, parents must keep in mind that self-esteem is an important part in every child's development. How does this relate to Psychology of Infancy and Childhood? Although we did not go into specifics with self-esteem in class, I felt that it tied in with others topics we discussed, such as gender development, intelligence and individual differences and emotional development. I believe that all of these are outcomes on a child's self-esteem. References Brooks, R.
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