Pearl of Wisdom
'The man of intellect is never stung twice from the same hole.'
Imam Ja'far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq [as]
al-Ikhtisas, p. 245
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Self-esteem and Children
Self-esteem is defined as feeling oneself worthy of the respect of others. All human beings have an innate desire to be respected and liked. They want others to look up to them. There is great wealth in self-esteem. It brings confidence in one’s own abilities, and helps in initiating and achieving one’s goals. Feeling good about oneself brings peace and happiness to the heart. It boosts the spirit and produces noble characters and lofty ideas.
Advantages of a healthy self-esteem
1. The child who knows that he has some good qualities that others respect is satisfied with himself. This will translate into rational and calm behavior. There will be no need for tantrums and aggressiveness to demand attention. A child with self-esteem is a happy child.
2. Such a child values himself, and knows that he has a certain respect and dignity. Thus there will be lesser chances for him to become involved in acts which lower the status he envisions for himself. A child who respects himself will not easily give in to peer pressure to perform immoral and indecent acts. He would realize that it is beneath himself to stoop to it.
3. A child with self-esteem will try harder to achieve high goals. He knows he is capable of good, and can set lofty targets to achieve. He will have the initiative to start things and get involved in various activities.
When self-esteem is lacking
1. The child gives in to wrong more easily. He is easily swayed by others as it is difficult to be firm on one’s own principles when there is no confidence in oneself. The views and opinions of others will carry great weight. Such children run a higher risk of succumbing to peer pressure and joining unseemly groups.
2. A child who has no self-esteem accepts failure as his lot. He will not try to challenge himself, or have high expectations of himself. He does not think he has the ability to achieve anything good. This resignation to failure sets ground for future defeats, and the lack of struggle to progress in life.
3. He suffers more from negative emotions such as anger, jealousy, frustration etc. A child who has confidence in himself, can accept another child’s success as he knows that he too is successful. But when that consolation is absent, jealousy is a natural reaction. Often there is anger at oneself, or even at others who may be seen as responsible for the failures. There is then little room for happy, healthy feelings necessary to make the child an emotionally stable human being.
How to foster self-esteem in a child
Having seen the importance of self-esteem in the life of a child, many people wonder what can be done to ensure that a child has a healthy sense of self-esteem. There is much that parents can do, or avoid doing, that will help the child to respect himself. The following points are not meant to raise the child on a pedestal, and turn him into a proud, selfish brat. When doled out in moderation, these tactics will help foster a feeling a sense of self-worth. All parents should use discretion in their individually unique circumstances to avoid over indulging and spoiling the child. These points are given only as guidance.
Teach the child to think highly of himself
Encourage him to set goals and have high expectations of himself. In school and Madrasah and any other activities he may be involved in, help him to do well and to achieve the utmost possible with his capabilities. A push of encouragement from the parent, as well as concerned interest, helps the child try hard in his daily activities. Teach him that certain things are below his dignity. These could include complaining too much, asking for things from others, getting into trouble with authority etc. The child will become habituated to a certain type of behavior. Anything below that will seem unworthy for himself.