Self-Esteem and the Self-System


Amanda Morris

Chapter 13



“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

Gautama Buddha

What predicts views of self? There are three basic areas that predict the view on self: attachment, other people’s views, and competence. (Bergin)

There are signs to watch for in children that may have low self- esteem.  If a student gives up easily, avoids task and challenges without effort, or has a loss of interest in usual activities; these could be warning signs for low self-esteem.  Other signs to watch for are a negative sense of self, or always putting oneself down; difficulty accepting praise, and becoming strongly affected by negative influences surrounding him/her.

Research shows you can higher student’s self-esteem by following these guidelines:

Improve students’ competence in athletics, academics, or social skills.  Improve students’ relationships with others and yourself. Recognize that self-concept is multifaceted.  Be honest about academic achievement of your students. (Bergin)

While there are a variety of factors that influence and affect students’ self-esteem, one of the most altering influences are the parents and the home environment.  The following is a simple list that can be elaborated and put into play in a variety of ways.

How parents can help self-esteem:

*be a positive role model.

*be careful what you say

*identify and redirect inaccurate beliefs

*be spontaneous and affectionate

*give positive, accurate feedback

*create a safe, loving home environment

*help kids become involved in constructive experiences

(Kids Health)

While this information primarily focused on self-esteem, it is of the upmost importance that influencing adults do not mistake overall self-esteem for specific self-concepts.  The following is a great article showing an example of this misconception and how it can affect adults and peers. I suggest checking it out:

Bergin, C.C. & Bergin, D.A. (2012).  Child and Adolescent Development in Your Classroom.  Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth/Cengage Learning

Elmore, Tim. “What Really Cultivates Self Esteem in Children.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 19 09 2013. Web. 13 Nov 2013. <>.

New, Michelle. “Developing Your Child’s Self-Esteem.” Kid’s Health. The Nemours Foundation, n.d. Web. 10 Nov 2013. <>.

“Signs of Low Self-Esteem.” Healthy Children. 29 08 2013. Web. 13 Nov 2013. <;.

1. Can you think of a student that has high self-esteem, but maybe has a low self-concept for a particular area (reading, math, public speaking)?  Describe the actions related to this particular area.

2.  What characteristics of low self-esteem do you see in your students? Do you notice it affecting certain aspects of their life?

3.  What characteristics of high self-esteem do you see in your students? Are these characteristics a positive addition to your classroom environment? Why or why not?

4. What areas of self-esteem would you like to work on within your classroom environment?  How do you think you could address these areas?

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3 Responses to Self-Esteem and the Self-System

  1. Mary Decker says:

    1. Can you think of a student that has high self-esteem, but maybe has a low self-concept for a particular area (reading, math, public speaking)? Describe the actions related to this particular area.

    I have a student in one of my sections who appears to have generally high self-esteem. She has many friends and performs well academically, generally speaking. However, she seems to have a low self-concept when it comes to the area of writing. She is very unsure of herself. She will come up to me to seek reassurance and guidance after almost every sentence. Often, she will also ask if each section of writing is “good enough.” She does not trust her own abilities. I have tried to encourage her by reviewing writing rubrics on which she has performed well with her. I have praised her effort and shown her specific things which she has done well, while supporting the areas in which she could improve. I believe that with some more writing experiences in my classroom, I may be able to wean her off of seeking my approval as I continue to build her confidence.

    • Amanda Morris says:

      That’s interesting, do you work with her in other subjects? It sounds like you know she’s more confident with other topics but you didn’t specifically say that. I feel like personally I have a lower self-concept in the area of teaching writing and I have been talking through this with another teacher that feels the same way. Lately we have been discussing it’s difficult because the lessons Lucy Calkin’s teaches is more to expose the students to higher level thinking and ideas and not quite as much for every student to be able to do it. It’s harder to look at writing and go: yes, I’ve got it, or no, I don’t! Although things like punctuation and transition words are a little easier to spot.

  2. Katie Williams says:

    What areas of self-esteem would you like to work on within your classroom environment? How do you think you could address these areas?
    After do a sociogram for my classroom, I was able to see the relationships my students has with each other. I think the sociogram will help me see how I can help students develop relationships to boost self esteem. I think the relationships between students is the starting place for me to work on self esteem. I noticed that most of my students only had connections with 1-2 other people. I think addressing these areas by first building a stronger relationship between myself and my students will help. I also think that continuing to boost confidence in my students will boost their self esteem.

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