Self-Esteem and Self-Concept
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In today’s age and the growing trend in American society of “what’s hot and what’s not”, is having a huge impact on young children’s self-concept and self-esteem. Self-concept “refers to the beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, and ideas people have about themselves,” whereas self-esteem is “a personal judgment of worthiness that indicates the extent to which the individual believes himself to be capable, significant, successful, and worthy (392).”
My interest on this subject was peaked after spending the evening with my five year-old cousin, Sami, last week. We were sitting and eating dinner when she said, “Cali, I am fat and ugly.” Well, I almost fell out of my chair. At the age of five, she was already cutting herself down. “Research shows that physical appearance is the strongest correlate of global self-worth in childhood and adolescence (398).”
However, our textbook explains that children around my cousin’s age have a hard time defining their sense of self. They tend to describe their physical characteristics, areas of interest, family life, etc (394). Nowhere in the text does it say that a child her age should be viewing herself in terms of physical attractiveness. Adolescence and high school students are more apt to make judgments of themselves, not children in kindergarten.
I feel that television, magazines, books and the internet make our youth have a lower self-esteem because they feel they are not as good looking as the characters on their favorite television show. My cousin watches Nickelodeon and even on children’s shows it seems there are no ugly or fat children. The actresses look older than I do because of all the make-up and their choice of clothing. What does that say to our youth? “Most American girls receive consistent and clear messages that beauty is defined in terms of being ‘slim and trim’ (398).”
In the classroom, self-concept and self-esteem have a huge impact on how well a child does in school. When I was in elementary school and especially high school, I would classify myself as being a good language arts student, but a poor Math and Science student. In elementary school there isn’t as much competition between students, therefore I didn’t feel the need to comment on my strengths and weaknesses. Like the author says, “and older student’s self-concept may be further broken down according to success in individual subject areas, such as reading, mathematics, or science (394).” In elementary school, all of the subjects could be incorporated into one lesson, while in high school the students switch classes and concentrate on a certain subject per period.
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Self-esteem Physical Attractiveness Huge Impact Growing Trend Physical Characteristics Television Show High School Students Physical Appearance Young Children
As a teacher, you need to keep in mind that, although, a student may excel in Math, he/she does not do as well in English. When I become a teacher, I plan on doing a lot of cooperative learning. When assigning groups, I would put a child with excellent Math skills and poor English skills, with a student with poor Math skills and excellent English skills and so on. I am a firm believer that students learn more from their peers than they do their teachers.
Also, as a teacher, remember that positive reinforcement goes a long way. As a student matures, they tend to criticize themselves more than they did in their younger years. It helps them to better understand themselves and at the same time, they can become more self-conscious. Our textbook reads, “because of this heightened sense of self-consciousness, teachers should take care in singling students out in public for either special recognition or disciplinary actions (396).” If you continually praise a student during class, the child could be labeled as the “teacher’s pet” and could possibly get harped on by his/her peers. At the same time, you don’t always want to discipline a child in public, either, because they would be labeled “the bad kid in class” and be made fun of. Children can be brutal. Either way, you could be lowering the student’s self-esteem unintentionally.
The world as we know is continually changing. It will never be as it once was. Our society is controlling us by defining us. Our youth are developing their self-concept as an earlier age because of society. Their self-esteem may not be as high as it once was because of society. As educators, we need to remind our students how important and valuable they are to society, regardless of their looks, weight, color, gender and intelligence level.
A person’s self-concept is continually developing during each life stage. Self-concept is an idea of who you are, and how you see yourself. Self-concept is created by two main concepts, self-image and self-esteem. How you see yourself, your personality and how others see you are all part of a person’s self-concept. The more positive a person views themselves, the greater the chance of that individual reaching their full potential and being able to maintain a positive attitude. Self-concept is based on three things. Which are: Self-image
Definition of self image:- The way a person feels about his or her personality, achievements and value to society. (Cambridge dictionaries online) Another definition of self image is:- The idea, conception, or mental image one has of oneself. (positive self image and self esteem) This is an idea of who you are, and comes into 4 elements which are, the type of things that you use to describe yourself to another individual. Your social role e.g. I work as a teacher
Read more: What makes a person admirable essay
Your personality e.g. I am very friendly
Your physical self-e.g. I am small and slim
Your intellectual abilities e.g. I am very good at English
Definition of ideal self:- The Ideal Self is an idealized version of yourself created out of what you have learned from your life experiences, the demands of society, and what you admire in your role models. (Psychology Glossary). Another definition is:- Your representation of the attributes that someone (yourself or another) would like you, ideally, to possess. (Boundless).
This is who you would like to be and see yourself as. It can be influences by many different things, such as role models or the media. If your self-image and ideal-self are similar then you are probably going to feel good about yourself, but if they are not similar then you are most likely to feel like you have low self-esteem.
Definition of self esteem:- Confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect. (Oxford dictionaries). Another definition is:- The term self-esteem is used to describe a person’s overall sense of self-worth or personal value. (Psychology) Self-esteem is how we value ourselves, how valuable we think we are to others. Self-esteem affects our trust in others, our relationships, and our work – nearly every part of our lives. Positive self-esteem gives us the strength and flexibility to take charge of our lives and grow from our mistakes without the fear of rejection.
There are positive and negative self-concepts, which both will affect the development, and outcome of self-concept. It could affect the way the individual behaves, and interacts with other individual’s.
Self-image comes into four different elements these are:
Your social role e.g. I work as a teacher
Your personality e.g. I am very friendly
Your physical self-e.g. I am small and slim
Your intellectual abilities e.g. I am very good at English
Where we gather our thoughts of self-image come from various places, but there a three which are the most important, which are: Reactions of others
When you think about your idea of who you are, it mostly comes from how you think other people view you. When you communicate with others, you construct an idea of the type of individual you are, established on individual’s gestures, words, actions and facial expressions. Social comparison
Comparing yourself to others, so that you can construct a picture of who you are. For example, when you go out to the beach with your friends and you compare your figure to their figure in a bathing costume, just to get an idea of who you are. Observing your own behaviour
The skill to do this progresses as you become more mature. Everybody at some point doesn’t like the way they may have acted in a situation, and then
think back on it and try to improve and do something different to better themselves. To be self-reflective is a skill and in health and social care it is needed a lot. Self-esteem
Self-esteem is a personal opinion of oneself and is shaped by individuals’ relationships with others, experiences, and accomplishments in life. It will change in different areas of your life, for example you may be good at football and that would boost your self-esteem, but you didn’t make the team captain so this could lower your self-esteem.
There are many factors that can influence an individual’s self-concept, these are some examples: Age – Age can influence your self-concept because as you get older, physical capabilities change, for example your health, fitness, illness or disability. This will influence the development of self-concept because Gender- Gender can influence your self-concept because it can restrict you from doing things, for example football is known as a males sport so a female may feel like they can’t play this sport, this would influence the development of an individual’s self-concept. Culture- Culture can influence your self-concept because you could speak a certain language and that would determine who you speak to or who your friends are, this will influence the development of an individual’s self-concept because what language they speak and who they speak to or who their friends are will give them an idea of who they are.
Income – Income can influence your self-concept, because it can affect different areas of your life such as, geographical location, housing, friendship groups, education. All of these will contribute to a person’s development of self-concept. Education – Intellectual abilities can influence your self-concept for example if the individual is intelligent that will change who they are as they progress into further education and work. Depending on their intellectual abilities, it can be positive or negative outcomes on the development of self-concept. Appearance – Appearance can influence your self-concept because your physical features such as clothes and non-verbal behaviour can influence and develop aspects of your self-concept. A relationship – Positive relationships tend to boosts a person’s self-esteem and self-confidence, and helps to develop social skills. Relationships are an important contribution to an individual’s development of self-concept.
Abuse- Abuse can influence self-concept, but it can depend on how long the abuse has lasted, what life stage you are at when you have been involved in abuse and also it will come down to your personality. Upbringing – Upbringing can influence self-concept because the way your parent brings you up will depend on the person you are, and how you behave. This can be a positive or negative outcome. Geographical location- This can influence your self-concept because depending on your location of where you live can depend on the opportunities available, this can also be a positive or negative outcome
All the factors that influence an individuals self-concept can effect individuals in different ways, it depends on what type of factor it is, how it affects the development of self concept, and weather or not the factor has a positive or negative affect on the individual. M2/D1
Income can influence the development of individual’s self-concept in a negative and positive way because, individuals with good income with be able to live a luxurious life-style, for example they will be able to afford good healthy balance diet, good accommodations, private hospitals, private schools for their children which will give them the advantage to good education and they get the chance to reach their full potential in life. But most importantly, possessions are not the only important thing in life, as long as one is able to maintain basic standard of living is maintained. This would have a positive effect on the individual’s self-concept because they have been able to live a good life and have been given the chance to achieve, having all these opportunities will ensure that the individuals self-esteem is positive because they will have a sense of personal worth, due to the opportunities they have.
Also the individual will have an understanding of which they are, this is self-image they will have an understanding of self-image because they have been able to explore different things through income. Individuals with low income will even find it difficult to maintain the basic needs of life and this will affect their self-esteem especially if they are surrounded by images of people who have a lot of wealth. They will be restricted from a lot of things for example, will not be able to afford nice clothes for them and their children, will not be able to afford good accommodation which could mean poor housing conditions, and not be able to access higher education which means that they do not get a good chance to reach their full potential in life.
This could have a negative effect on the individuals development of self-concept because they would not feel like they have personal worth because they haven’t got the income to achieve things, such as a good education or a well-paid job, by not having the sense of personal worth or achievement means that the individuals self-esteem would be low, because the individual hasn’t been able to achieve things due to income, it could make them feel depressed and also make them feel as if they are not wanted, this would give negative self-concept. They wouldn’t be able to have an idea of, self-image, because they haven’t had the opportunity to experience things. Having a negative self-concept can also change the behaviour of the individual, for example they might feel like they are not good enough so they wouldn’t want to attempt to have a go at something or interact with others.
Age influences self-concept because at different life stages we think of ourselves in different ways, this factor can either be a positive or negative. Two examples are: Adolescence In the life stage of adolescence we get the idea of self-concept from comparison with other individuals, for example peers in a class room. It is likely that you would compare how well you’ve done in a piece of work to other peers. This could affect self-concept because if you are comparing yourself to others and you haven’t done as well as them it could make you your self-esteem low because you wouldn’t have the sense of achievement, which isn’t fulfilling self-esteem as stated on Maslow’s hierarchy “Esteem needs – achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, and respect from others.” (simplypsychology). Self-concept consists of: Self-image
This would be a negative effect on the individual’s self-concept because they wouldn’t feel good about themselves. And because the individual wouldn’t have reached positive self-esteem, or found out the idea of themselves they wouldn’t be able to understand their own self-concept. Adulthood
At the life stage of adulthood we find ourselves to be more aware of who we are because of the experiences throughout our lives. We tend to describe ourselves by our job roles and ability to provide for our families, this will give us a sense of self-image because we can describe ourselves through our social role. At this life stage we are usually in intimate relationships, such as a husband or boyfriend, by having this in your life will give you confidence and it can also make you feel valued and give you a sense of belonging, this would contribute to a positive self-esteem, which will also contribute to the idea of who you are (self-concept). This would give the individual a positive self-concept because they have an understanding of who they are, because they have an idea of self-image and also have a positive self-esteem.
An individual’s upbringing can influence the development of their self-concept, both in a negative and positive way. If an individual is brought up in a happy family home, where the parents have good jobs with good income and are supportive of the individual with education, this will give the individual the sense of belonging and also give them a sense of personal worth, because they have the support there for them, this will give them a positive self-esteem which will contribute to help the development of their self-concept. Also by having parents that work and earn a good income the individual will be able to experience things, such as holidays, and different activities. By being able to experience different types of things the individual will be able to have some understanding of who they are, this is called self-image which will also contribute to the development of the individual’s self-concept.
This outcome would be a positive self-concept, because the individual is able to learn about themselves and understand self-concept. Whereas if there is an individual who has been brought up in a family where the parents are not supportive of the individual’s education and not taking interest in the individual and are not employed so there is
low income. The individual wouldn’t have a sense of belonging and also the individual wouldn’t feel loved or valued because the parents are not supportive and seems like they do not care. This would mean that the individual’s self-esteem would be considerably low, because of the fact that the parents are not bothered about education and doing well, by not taking interest in the individual can again lower their self-esteem. Evidence given states “Ignoring children and not taking an interest in them, helps destroy self-esteem”. (Parenting and child health).
This also means that the individual’s self-concept would be negative because they don’t have the section of self-esteem. Because of the fact the parents do not work and there is low income means that the individual will miss out on things that other individuals have the chance to do, this could mean that they don’t have an understanding of self-image because they haven’t been able to explore who they are, or what they like to do etc. This could possibly then change the behaviour of the individual, because they may be so used to not being able to do certain things that they would not even bother to try their best to achieve.
Geographical location influence the development of an individual’s self-concept ad it also can have a positive and negative affect on an individual’s self-concept. If an individual lived in an area where there is a chance to succeed for example good schooling and also employment and a good area, where there is no trouble. It would give the individual the chance to be educated well, and then get a good job that is well paid. This would then give the individual a positive self-esteem because they have a sense of achievement and a sense of personal worth and by having a positive self-esteem will contribute to having knowledge of their own self-concept. Because the individual has had the opportunity to achieve well in education, the individual will know what their intellectual abilities are like, and they also would have a social role for example pithier a student or an employer, and this means that the individual has some understanding of self-image which will also contribute to the growth of the individual’s self-concept, because self-image is a section that needs to be understood to be able to understand who you are as an individual. This would have a positive effect on the development of the individual’s self-concept.
On the other hand if an individual lived in a run-down area, the self-concept of the individual would be different to the above example, because they would have experienced different things, for example they would have experienced unemployment, low income, and bad housing conditions. These experiences would lower the individual’s self-esteem, because they wouldn’t feel the sense of achievement, personal worth or the need for the respect. This means that they wouldn’t be able to reach a positive self-concept because they haven’t got the positive self-esteem, which is a section needed to help individuals understand their own idea of who they are. Also another negative affect on self-concept would be that because the individual lives in a run-down area, where there is nothing to help them succeed in life or succeed in something that they are really interested in, they will find it hard to understand the idea of who they are, because they haven’t been able to achieve or haven’t been given the chance to experience different things just because of the location of where they live. So self-image will be affected, which means if the individual has got a negative self-esteem and a poor understanding of self-image they will not be able to reach a positive self-concept of themselves.
Appearance can affect the development of an individual’s self-concept, whether it is in a positive or negative form. If an individual feels comfortable with their appearance, it will ensure that their self-esteem is positive, because they will value themselves and feel sense of personal worth, and also if they feel happy with their appearance it could give them confidence. This would contribute to giving them an understanding of who they are as an individual because they would have reached one section of self-concept, which is “self-esteem”. Also because the individual is happy with what they look like, and feel comfortable, this would help them understand their self-image, which is another section of self-concept. ‘Ideal-self’ is also another section of self-concept, so because the individual is comfortable with how they look they would have also have some understanding of their ideal-self. This would be a positive self-concept because the individual has understanding of the three sections of self-concept. Self-image
On the other hand, if an individual isn’t comfortable with their appearance, it can make their self-esteem become low, because they wouldn’t have a sense of personal worth because of the fact that they do not like themselves. Evidence states that “Unhealthy body image is directly related to low self-esteem” (raising children network). By having a low self-esteem means that the individual will not be able to have a positive self-concept because self-esteem is one of the sections of self-concept, that gives an individual knowledge about themselves.
Also the individual would have an idea of their ideal-self, this is who they would like to be but because they are not happy with their appearance, and that they are not like their “ideal-self”, this could make them feel like they are not the best they can be or it could make them feel self-conscious, which again will affect their self-esteem. And also affect the behaviour of the individual, for example the individual may not want to go out and have a good time because they feel too uncomfortable with themselves, and this is where we as care workers should carry out positive reinforces to help the individual make some positivity out of their-self-concept and also to show them some support.
It is important that we as care workers understand that self-concept is important so that we can learn and understand our own self-concept to be able to learn to understand other individuals self-concept, if we know who we are then it is easier to understand another person’s self-concept. In health care you will come across individuals that will not be able to understand who they are, because they don’t feel like they are an individual, this is where positive reinforces are used to show them that they have support from you and also to help them regain a positive self-concept, the things you can do to show them you are supporting them is:
listening to the person
find out why they have a negative self-concept
not to be judgemental
value the individual
Discover possible ways to overcome the issues that make them feel negative about themselves. All these will contribute to helping the individual and as care workers we should be able to carry out these different types of skills. Self-concept can also affect the behaviour of the individual, for example if they have a negative self-concept they can feel all types of different emotions such as feeling, lost, worthless, insecure, depressed, not accepted. All these emotions can cause problems in the behaviour of the person such as the individual not wanting to participate in different things or communicate with another individual because they feel like they are not wanted or that they are insignificant. Also having all these emotions can cause an individual to become stressed. Evidence states that ”“stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behaviour.” (stress management).