The Block Island Times

The importance of self esteem

By Sheridan Fisher Carley | May 01, 2012

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

What are you good at? What makes you feel good and anchors your self esteem? Is it a job? Money? Success? Your wife, husband or a hobby? Everyone needs to feel special.

We would like to see our children develop: spiritually, physically, with cognitive awareness, with social skills and emotional growth. No component can be overlooked or left out. They need them all. Each child needs to feel special in order to establish a sense of self worth.

Many years ago as a young mother and educator, I had to make a decision about my son’s outrageous behavior. The one thing he loved more than anything was playing baseball for his school, St. Joe’s. So, of course the first thing that came to mind was to take away baseball. I do not recollect the reason I was so angry, however, it must have been a dandy. After yelling and screaming, I had a doctor’s appointment so the punishment had to be postponed until later. That in itself was torture for my son.

I happened to run into an old high school principal I hadn’t seen in a while. I related the dilemma and asked for her advice. I explained my thoughts on future discipline and punishment for my son so he would understand the magnitude of my anger.

The principal sat down and shared her wisdom with me, for she certainly was wiser. Her answer was astounding. She said my son’s “self-concept and worth was baseball. That’s who he was. Never, never, take a child’s self-concept away. They will never forget the punishment. They will view it to be unfair and the effect will stay with them forever.”

Take away things they like to do — parties, bowling, play dates, television, etc. — but, “do not take away who they are.” It is important for all of us to have good feelings about our abilities. It is always about increasing one’s self-esteem.

The most important gift to anyone is to let them know there is not another human being on earth that is exactly like them and there will never be anyone again. They are special and a gift to the world.

Till the next time…



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