Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Building Self-Esteem in Children
I attended a seminar last Saturday on building self-esteem and I learned a few things:
1. According to the speaker, self-esteem starts in the womb, if the mother has negative attitude towards the baby, the limbic system of the fetus will not be fully developed. The limbic systems is responsible for emotions like fear, for homestasis or body regular or balance, for memory, etc.
I am teaching Developmental Psychology and according to the book by Hurlock, there is no direct connection or nerve coming from the mother to the child, this is an old book, published in 1982, I do not know if they have proven or there are recent study that a child can really feel if the mother is happy or not.
I was explaining to my students, that if the mother is feeling stressed or happy, the hormones, blood pressure, heart palpitations, is affected. If this is affected it would have a negative or positive effect to the baby's environment in the womb. If the mother is happy, she is at least have an increased level of endorphins that can combat some disease like ordinary colds if the mother is stressed or is worried all the time, it would released hormones or neurotransmitters like serotonin that may have an effect on the environement of the baby. Effects would be in a form of hypertension, increase in blood pressure, sleeplessness or anxiety which can cause maybe overeating or not eating at all.
2. The baby can feel the mother's feeling toward the unborn child, if a child is welcome in the family she/he has a great chance of having a secure and enough self-esteem. If a baby is unwanted maybe due to unwanted pregnancy or finacial crisis, when this baby will be born there is an affect on the relationship between the mother and the child. There is a tendency that the baby will not form attachment to the mother because of the mother's attitude toward the child.
3. Every birthday should be celebrated. Every birthday should be affirmed. It is like telling the whole world every year that "today is my birthday, let us celebrate." There are instances in a child's life where a mother is too busy with work that she forgets to celebrate or even ask the child what he/she wants for her birthday. During maybe the time of our parents, they seldom celebrate birthdays and maybe even during our time we do not celebrate it.
I am thinking of my own family where we do not celebrate birthday every year, we do not even have a debut. We are four girls in the family and only my eldest sister had a celebration. Of course when I turned 18 I dreamed of having a debut I was envious of my classmates but I understand my parents, we lack financial resources, we all struggled through school. Now during that seminar, I remember all those missed birthdays, it never occurred to me that it should be celebrated. Do I hate my parents for it? Not really. Was my self-esteem affected. Hmm, let me think. For a while, I wanted to cry during the seminar because somehow it brought out forgotten memories.
I also remembered my recent birthday last January and my in-laws forgot my birthday. My sister-in-law remembered it and brought home a cake and some pasta. I am now a member of a family who always celebrate birthdays. Irwin's family always invite friends and relatives over for birthday and the food is always catered, that is how they spend on their birthdays. I've also done that once, I invited their relatives and my relatives and some of my friends. They went to my party but without the invitation, without the food some people really do forget birthdays. Even my high school friends forgot my birthday. WAAAA! I am insignificant! Pathetic naman. Some people avoid telling their birthday kasi ayaw manlibre. hahaha. In Korea, the birthday celebrant doesn't pay for their birthday but their friends have the celebration for them. Baliktad dito sa atin. Birthday mo, manlibre ka.
I remember giving my students free ice cream because it was my birthday but I told them it was Cassie's birhday. Iwas talaga sa libre. But I did ordered spaghetti for my co-teachers on my birthday because they remembered it.
4. It is the adult who foster low or high self-esteem to a child. Rivalry in children will not happen if not for the parent, relatives or guardian. If there are no favoritism or if they treat their children fairly, there will be no rivalry. One example given by the speaker is this classic scenario:
Older child is expecting a new sibling.
Adult: "Ay hindi ka na love ng mommy at daddy mo, yung bagong baby na ang love nila"
What do you think will happen?
Adult: " Wow, ate/kuya ka na, alagaan mo si baby ha, protect your little brother/sister, love mo si baby ha, love natin lahat si baby kagaya mo love din namin lahat.
The baby already arrives, and everybody's attention is on the baby
Adult: "ang cute naman ni baby, ang ganda, ang puti, etc"
Adult: " Ang ganda naman ni baby, kamukha ni ate/kuya, pereho silang maganda!"
So to summarize, self-esteem is how you treat yourself, if you care and feel you are important. Self-confidence is different, feeling secure is also not the same, they are not related to one another, meaning if you are confident, it does not mean that you have self-esteem or if you feel a high self-esteem you can be secure.