My social and cultural experiences played a major part in the buildup and with the struggles I may have had with self esteem as a child. My social development when I was younger wasn’t that great now that I think about it. I spent most of my time with my grandmother because I was always ill when I was younger. This resulted in my not going to daycare, I spent my infant years up to school age with my grandmother. When it was time for me to attend school, it was hard, and I would constantly cry for my parents. It was so bad that the school thought that I suffered from a learning disability because I wouldn’t socialize with others. I believe that not being around other kids and socializing caused me to have low self-esteem as a child. I think I opened more around middle school. According to the textbook, “Children’s higher self-esteem associated with parents who are accepting, affectionate, and involved with their children, set clear and consistent rules, use noncoercive disciplinary tactics, and consider the children’s views in family discussions.” When I read this, it made me realize that this maybe another reason why my self-esteem wasn’t very high when I was a child. Growing up in a Jamaican household my parents did not allow any slacking when it came to school, and I should be treating everyone with respect especially adults. If I had any issues, there would be consequences. My parents were always busy with work and school, they were trying to make sure that we were secure for the future, so they weren’t around a lot when I was younger. I feel like growing up in a Jamaican culture made me such a strong, hardworking person. Their way of showing love is through tough love but being a young child, it was hard to understand that. I didn’t realize this until I got older. Can anyone relate to growing up in a Caribbean household?
My sense of identity as a teen and a young adult would fall under identity achievement, which according to the textbook, is associated with high self-esteem, cognitive flexibility, more mature moral reasoning, clearer goal setting, and better goal achievement. I believe once I got older, I became a lot more social and more of a young adult rather quickly. I was always very mature for my age and my parents always said I was their more responsible child. I set out goals and achieved them. I can honestly say that I didn’t suffer from low self-esteem as a teen, those were some of the best years of my life. How were your teenage years?
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I am the youngest of three sisters. My sisters are 6 and 5 years older than me. We were raised with the conviction that the most important thing and the only one we needed to worry about were the school and our grades. We also were told that by holding a diploma, we would be independent and successful in life. Not finishing school was not an option in our household, and good grades were required or else.
I realize now that it was a cultural tendency; it was like that pretty much around the neighborhood, with various levels of intensity. My parents were, without a doubt, among the most exigent. I firmly believe it was the cultural element that made me a very competitive child. I always paid attention in class, I participated, and I always did my homework, together with my exceptional memory, it helped me thrive through school. My grades were excellent, and I would volunteer to help those that were behind, which got me the respect of my peers and teachers. Since I had such a good memory, I could memorize movies and shows, especially the funny parts, which I repeated to my classmates, making everybody laugh. Soon I was repeating jokes, and it made me the smart, funny girl everybody wanted to hang out with, even though I was extremely skinny and unattractive; this is the social experience that provided me with high self-esteem and a sense of security.
Unfortunately, my sisters had to go to an intern school to enroll in high school, and they had to work in the orange fields during the mornings and classes in the afternoons (this was part of a communist experiment in Cuba back then). My sisters spent their adolescent years away from home, only a few miles but still they could only come home an alternative weekend. By the time I finished middle school, there were high schools in the city, so I did not have to go to the schools located in the rural area. Also, my dad was very strict with my sisters, the opposite of how he treated me. I think as parents get old, they become more lenient toward their children and that is probably the reason for which I am closer to my parents and enjoy more been with family in general. To this day my sisters are more inclined to be around friends.
As an adult, I have friends, and I sporadically convey get-together activities with them. Ultimately most of my time goes to my household, and I enjoy more, the nights out to the movies with my children than a three days cruise. It makes me immensely happy the fact that regardless my children being 27, 25, and 18, when my husband and I tell them we want to go to the movies, they will get together, decide the movie, the time and they will present us with the “itinerary.” Even though most of the time, they forget to include us in the planning, I consider myself very lucky, and I could not ask for anything else.
Resuming, I believe that our culture made me competitive and proud, which allowed me to stand out. Standing out and being respected was the social experience that made me confident. Staying close to my parents through high school was the social event that emphasized my personal beliefs and moral standards.
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Children and Low Self-Esteem: More than ever, children and young people are experiencing an epidemic of self-doubt and feelings of low self-esteem. Even though self-esteem has been studied for more than 100 years, specialists and educators continue to debate its precise nature and development. Nevertheless, they generally agree that the origins of low self-esteem are to be found in the way adults communicate with young people. From the time a baby is born and then throughout her life, she is told: –How she should behave. –Who she should be. –What she should think. From the very beginning, this little person is told, in no uncertain terms, that her freedom to choose, in many situations, is secondary to doing what is expected of her. In her attempts to live up to people’s expectations of her she learns to develop beliefs, habitual ways of thinking, about herself and what she can do. In developing beliefs, she begins to disassociate from her ability to explore, experiment and learn. During their early years, young children’s self-esteem is based largely on their perceptions of how 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 life’s figures greatly in the development of self-esteem.
Parents, guardians, and teachers can pass down low self-esteem to their children without realizing it.
If a parent constantly talks about how well other people are doing, and ‘why can’t we be like that?’ or ‘what are we doing wrong?’ etc… These are silent messages to a child that other people are better than ‘us’.
Another indirect method of encouraging low self-esteem is to neglect a child. By not spending time with them and talking to them about what’s going on in their lives, we send them a message that they are not important enough to warrant our attention. They begin to believe (subconsciously) that your time is too valuable for them, and they are not worth enough.
More extreme reasons why a child may inherit low self-esteem is that some parents tell their child directly that they are ‘stupid’, ‘not very good at school’, ‘not sociable enough’, ‘too much of a tomboy’, ‘too girly’, etc…
Even more severely, a parent/guardian/teacher may verbally or physically abuse a child. This gets the message across very quickly and thoroughly.
Either indirectly or directly, parents/guardians/teachers can make a child feel less of a person when a child is made to believe that they do not measure up to the ‘ideal’ that is expected of them, they very easily lose their self-esteem because children are impressionable. Their views of the world, and where they fit into it, are being constructed.
That level of the burden should not be placed on children.
On the flip-side. The best way to BOOST a child’s self-esteem is to point out their best attributes, and their best features. Encourage them to work harder at things they find difficult, and that you will be there to support them no matter what. Let them know that they don’t have to be good at everything, but make sure to highlight the things they are good at already. Show them, love, by spending time with them. Hug them and cuddle them. Direct and indirect confirmation of their importance as a person will build their self-esteem and they will do well in life.
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I am originally from Berlin, Germany. I have lived in the United States for over 20 years now. Growing up I had different social and cultural experiences than my normal American peers. For starters, I only spoke German for the first few years of my life. I lived in Germany until I was three years old. My parents up and moved and when I got to America, I did not know any English, my parents put me in an English-speaking preschool. I remember being traumatized because I could not communicate, nor was anything even remotely familiar to me. As a child I did pick up English very quickly though, this helped my social life a lot. Once I learned English my social life improved, I was a social butterfly. As a child not knowing the common language hurt my self-esteem as a young child, but as I did learn English and once I could communicate, my self-esteem went up. Culturally I remember some common differences, like food. I would always have German food in my lunches that included some smelly cheeses or different looking breads. Sometimes kids would make fun of what I was eating just because it was different from theirs. I did not care because my food was really good. I also noticed table manners were a huge cultural difference. I always ate very clean, and if I made a mess I would always clean it up, I never left so much as a crumb behind because it was considered disrespectful. I also noticed work ethic differences even as a young child. I was taught there was a time for work and there was a time for play. I remember noticing a lot of kids goofing off during class when I was young. I know a lot of people think Germans are rigid and cold, which can be true but they are also the most playful, fun, and good social people to be around when the time is right. As a teen, my sense of identify came from my surroundings, my parents, and my peers. The PowerPoint states, Harter has six stages of the developmental self, the last three are adolescent. Early adolescence includes: interpersonal attributes, social skills, competencies, emotions. Early adolescence can also recognize difference selves in different contexts. Mid adolescence are introspective and preoccupied with what others think of them, they begin to question self-descriptions, especially when there are contradictions. In late adolescence, there is an emphasis on personal beliefs, values, and moral standards; they also think about future and possible selves. As a young adult I feel like I really got that sense of self and who I was and who I wanted to be. I knew I was responsible, social, I have a go getter attitude. My self-esteem was on the higher side, meaning that I viewed myself as competent, capable, and pleased with who I was, according to the PowerPoint. I was/ am always eager to learn and communicate. I see myself under the identity achievement category, which, according the PowerPoint is defined as “ associated with high self-esteem, cognitive flexibility, more mature moral reasoning, clearer goal setting, and better goal achievement.