Friday, August 07, 2009
Self-esteem and Reality
Some children lack confidence because they are very aware of their own struggles. Their self-esteem is low and may lead to a reluctance to try tasks or join in activities. This is especially apparent if they have a learning glitch or other challenges and their siblings do not. The comparisons are inevitable, and the child who struggles may feel inferior or somehow defective. As educators and parents we can work to balance this skewed perspective and help our children develop an accurate view of themselves by pointing out things they are good at or show an affinity for throughout the day. Often these strengths are not the traditional academic areas, but may be reflected in athletic skills or artistic endeavors. I had a chat with my daughter once when she was discouraged about one of her school assignments. It wasn't coming easily for her and she began to droop as she came face-to-face with the challenge. I told her there were different ways people could be smart, and pointed out several areas where she was able to excel. As I explained that some of us are athletic, some of us are artistic, etc. she concluded happily, "I'm pretty much the whole package!" Her struggles were forgotten for the moment as she reflected on her strengths. The goal isn't for us to encourage our children to believe things that aren't true just to make them feel better. Our intention should be to help our children develop an accurate view of themselves with the recognition of both strengths and weaknesses. We all have areas of struggle, and some are just more visible than others. Let's do what we can to help our children see themselves as God sees them, as individuals who are valuable and have areas of struggle and areas of gifting. This truth is the foundation for genuine, lasting self-esteem based in reality.