Exploring Children’s Self-Esteem and Children’s Self-Confidence
Self-Esteem in Children
Whether counselling children, offering hypnotherapy with children or coaching children through life’s experiences, there is always their self-esteem which needs a boost to help keep an emotional equilibrium.
Self-esteem in children is all about how they think or feel about themselves, how they view themselves or their opinion of themselves. High self-esteem is a good opinion of themselves and low self-esteem is a bad opinion of themselves. Low self-esteem comes from a poor self-image. Their self-image is based on how they see themselves. Do they think they are a good, reliable, honest or friendly person? Do they like what they see when they look in the mirror? Or do they believe others look better or perform better than them?
More often than not children get confused over the difference between self-esteem with self-worth. Self-worth is to do with the value a child places on them self. If a child feels they are not as good as others, they are not feeling good about them self emotionally, or think they are not as clever as their friends, then they may not feel they are worth very much and therefore don’t have much to offer. And because they think this way the value they place on them self is low.
Self-esteem dictates the level of a child’s self-worth. If self-esteem is low, them they won’t value them self very highly. So, self-worth goes down due to issues of low self-esteem. When self-esteem rises, so too does self-worth. They work in partnership with each other. Self-esteem in children is so important and for parents this is something to be monitored and considered for anything their children do in life. It should be something all prospective parents should be made aware of and what they can do to influence their children for the future. Getting the right balance of self-esteem in children can make or break future success in all areas of life.
Confidence in Children
The other factor to consider with children is levels of confidence. Confidence, self-esteem and self-worth are all interlinked. Children with very low levels of confidence are very likely going to have low self-esteem as a consequence. Or children with low self-esteem will no doubt lack in confidence in many areas of their life. The thing to realise is there is a basic level of confidence a child operates on through their daily life and a confidence level for particular events or experiences. For example, a child may be generally quite confident in most situations. Then one day they are asked to stand up on stage and read a poem and their confidence level drops dramatically. This is quite common in such a situation. However, because they are generally quite confident, this level of confidence helps them through such situations much more easily than if they usually had a low-level of confidence to start with. So, confidence for the most part is attached to individual events or situations which we have experienced in the past and been able to gain positively from them. Particularly if they are getting reinforcement from parents or teachers.
Are Children Born with Self-Confidence?
There has been some research on how we attain self-confidence. Professor Robert Plomin of the Institute of Psychiatry and behavioural geneticist Corina Greven of Kings College in London, suggest it is more genetic predisposition, than environmental factors. This research published in 2009 looked at the heritability of self-confidence and its relationship to intelligence and performance.
Basically, they studied nearly 4000 pairs of twins, both fraternal and identical twins, between seven and ten years old. They found that a child’s self-confidence is influenced by heredity. The research suggests that an as yet unidentified self-confidence gene appears to influence performance. It suggests that for some at least, they are born with strong levels of confidence through the genes they carry, rather than the nurturing they receive. This idea that this is something that people are born with goes against previous theories that self-confidence is based on upbringing and environmental factors.
The Professor in this case suggests ‘Everyone has assumed self-confidence is a matter of environment or nurturing. Our research shows that it is certainly genetically influenced. We are not saying that genes are the only factor or that upbringing and environment cannot make a difference.’
Nature or Nurture
The debate over nature or nurture rumbles on. For sure genes play a role in all that is human. But by the very nature of something which is not whole when we are born, there is much that can be done to influence and develop such as self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth. Sure, we can be born into a family that possesses strong genes and out pops a baby pre-destined to have a strong personality and confidence in all they do in the world. But as we all know life has it’s little up’s and downs and then those fortunate enough to be born with such genes, can find the challenges of life-bearing down on them, to such an extent, their confidence or self-esteem takes a battering.
Either way, what children don’t realise is that they are the gatekeeper of the level of self-esteem they have at any given time. They just need help to know how to manage it. Their inner voice will come up with many thoughts or questions about their daily life. The internal feedback or answers they give themselves to these questions can drastically alter their self-esteem and how they feel about themselves.
A Child’s Internal Conflict
A child’s self-esteem depends on many questions and how they internally answer those questions. Such as:
- Are they doing good at school?
- Do their peers like them?
- Do they believe they are good at any of their subjects?
- How do they see themselves, their self-image?
- How do they feel about what they are good at or not good at?
- Are they comparing themselves to other children and not seeing the good in themselves?
- How do they view their social ranking amongst their peers?
- How do they relate to others?
- Do they feel that they can make their own decisions about certain things?
- Do they feel listened too?
Low self-esteem feeds on negative thinking. Some children worry unnecessarily or get over-anxious about meeting people or communicating with peers or adults. Children can easily knock themselves for not being as successful, intelligent, good looking or as popular as someone else. They often feel a great deal of pressure about the kind of person they think the world expects them to be, from what they see on TV or read on the internet. Sometimes they can overly dwell on their mistakes or make their mistakes bigger than they need to be and life’s tribulations just get out of proportion. Children can be strong in many ways, yet at the same time very vulnerable to self-doubt and that ever-present analytical and critical inner voice.
Children sometimes need help knowing that everyone makes mistakes and they can decide to learn and grow from those mistakes. Better that than let the mistakes be another form of self-punishment or loathing. It can be emotionally painful, challenging or daunting for children while they work out and deal with their thoughts and feelings. The world for them can sometimes be a confusing and scary place.
Counselling or hypnotherapy can children develop their self-esteem and self-worth. Raising a child’s self-esteem to a higher level will help them be confident, happy, highly motivated and have the right attitude to succeed. Hypnotherapy or counselling can support a child build their esteem and allow them to see they have choices in the way they think and feel about themselves