Psychology of Infancy and Childhood (DEP 2000), Section 01
Professor Lissette 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 pleasers, 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...