Self-Esteem and Self-Concept Position Paper

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In today's age and the growing trend in American society of "what's hot and what's not", is having a huge impact on young children's self-concept and self-esteem. Self-concept "refers to the beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, and ideas people have about themselves," whereas self-esteem is "a personal judgment of worthiness that indicates the extent to which the individual believes himself to be capable, significant, successful, and worthy (392)."

My interest on this subject was peaked after spending the evening with my five year-old cousin, Sami, last week. We were sitting and eating dinner when she said, "Cali, I am fat and ugly." Well, I almost fell out of my chair. At the age of five, she was already cutting herself down. "Research shows that physical appearance is the strongest correlate of global self-worth in childhood and adolescence (398)."

However, our textbook explains that children around my cousin's age have a hard time defining their sense of self. They tend to describe their physical characteristics, areas of interest, family life, etc (394). Nowhere in the text does it say that a child her age should be viewing herself in terms of physical attractiveness. Adolescence and high school students are more apt to make judgments of themselves, not children in kindergarten.

I feel that television, magazines, books and the internet make our youth have a lower self-esteem because they feel they are not as good looking as the characters on their favorite television show. My cousin watches Nickelodeon and even on children's shows it seems there are no ugly or fat children. The actresses look older than I do because of all the make-up and their choice of clothing. What does that say to our youth? "Most American girls receive consistent and clear messages that beauty is defined in terms of being ‘slim and trim' (398)."

In the classroom, self-concept and self-esteem have a huge impact on how well a child does in school. When I was in elementary...
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