Building Self-esteem

Photo by Iqbal Osman

Photo by Iqbal Osman

As I grew up, learning good traits was totally up to you. All you were told was ‘doing that isn’t good’ or ‘he is a good man’ and ‘that is bad’. From these, you had to derive what exactly was to be done and what not. Most of the time was spent in school, in trying to get good grades, in sports, etc. In all of these the emphasis was doing good in the tasks but not exactly learning values. For example, in a game such as kabbadi, you would earn kudos if you earned a point, but not exactly the same if you were a team player. The concept of a team player was almost non-existent. Now this might not be true of everyone, but I am speaking to myself. In such an atmosphere, building self-esteem in growing children wasn’t the priority. It was up to the child to learn. You were told directly or indirectly whom not to associate yourself with and that was the best message one would get. And there were movies from which one could learn. In fact, movies were a great teaching tool about learning these non-academic things. One of the common traits in movies up to the 80s was modesty and humility. In today’s world, children need more teaching and examples in cultivating self-esteem in them. In fact, just modesty and humility might not be good enough. A child needs to be able to recognize that he or she is doing good or great constantly. Any success must be acknowledged both by the parents and by the child. Every such recognition builds confidence in the child that he or she is a) doing the right thing b) that he or she can get it done.  Over a period of time, such reinforcements build up their confidence levels and get them prepared to face challenges early on in life. Along the same lines, children should be provided opportunities to recognize where they didn’t right and why so. Without such feedback, they will develop a false sense of rightness and a false sense of success. Thus it is okay if a child or even an adult says they did it – it shouldn’t be construed as bragging. Such a feedback would be putting down the enthusiasm of the person and more importantly sending the wrong message.

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