Self Esteem – We all need it Local psychotherapist Pam Custers explains why
rom the moment our children take their first breath our aim is to help them grow through childhood, into their teens and on to becoming emotionally successful adults. The importance of developing our children’s self esteem can feel overwhelming to parents. Martin Seligman’s definition of self esteem is “accepting yourself with an accurate appreciation of your strengths and worth and feelings that you are able to cope with life challenges”. In the 1970’s self esteem became central to children’s welfare. Low self esteem was blamed for a range of society’s problems. Parenting and education promoted building self esteem through a failure-free learning environment. This was to help children gain a sense of achievement. The results were surprising. Whilst the focus was to feel good about oneself, it came at the expense of doing well, boredom, overcoming frustration or being able to meet a challenge. Astoundingly, despite the intention being to increase self esteem precisely the opposite happened. There was an increase in anxiety and children who had an artificially boosted self esteem were found to be very sensitive to any feedback and found challenge hard. So what can we learn from all this research and how do we give children “authentic self esteem” that will see them through their lives and make them happy? Children need to learn about frustration, tolerance and persistence as this provides them with tools to cope with setbacks and disappointments (which are normal parts of existence), and to develop competence.
Our focus in developing authentic self esteem is twofold: • increasing our children’s competence by supporting them in learning new skills, developing an interest, handling a challenge and learning application and perseverance, • and most importantly by acknowledging their worth as human beings by loving them! If we can do this, we give them the best chance of having a healthy self esteem. Pam Custers is a Relationship Therapist and has considerable experience working with a range of family challenges. Contact her if you wish to have an infor mal discussion. All contact is strictly confidential. 07572 841 388 | firstname.lastname@example.org darlingmagazine.co.uk | june–aug 2014
Published on May 28, 2014