Our discourse today is Self-esteem, as it relates to our children and their academic performance.
Self esteem simply defined, is an individual’s sense of value or worth, or the extent to which a person values, approves of, appreciates, prizes, or likes himself or herself. Summarily, it is a favourable or unfavourable attitude towards the self.
Before going any further, I would like us to take a pop quiz and analyze our answers.
Increasing students’ self esteem would result in increased achievement.
Increasing students’ achievement would result in increased self esteem.
Which would you favor and why?
Self esteem increases academic achievement.
Students who improve say things like: “I can do this. I am proud of myself. I know who I am. I am loved. This is easy. I am satisfied with myself”.
Others who don’t improve say things like: “I don’t deserve to be in school. I am not loved. I am worthless. I can’t do this”.
Students who want to increase their achievement say things like: “I need to work harder. I can learn this if I apply myself. I need to be responsible for my grades in class”.
Others say: “Oh, the test was too hard. I’m not good at this. I can’t learn this.”
Now the question for Group B is, what inspires the attitude where a child wants to achieve and do well? If we search well, we would realize the answer still lies in *the self*.
Is it safe to assume that A is the preferred option? If that’s the case, where should this self esteem come from? Home or school? I bet you said home assuredly.
Now, what puzzles me is this: Why do parents leave this work undone or leave it entirely to the school?
We work at massaging our husband’s ego and knowing what to say and when to say the right things to our spouses, but we just dump things on our children.
The bond between children and their parents is so important. This bond, if formed properly, helps to deal with behavioural issues, and creates a background for good academic and social performance.
Indeed when a child is equipped and rich in self awareness and relationship skills, he is ready for life and things like academic performance just fall in place.
Do you know that students with high self esteem read better than those with low self esteem? Self esteem is strongly associated with happiness, confidence and good academic performance. A nursery child that can already read from home is more likely to perform and relate better in school than one who is just learning it at school.
Children definitely see themselves in the eyes of their parents and value themselves based on how we value them. This is a very important aspect of our children’s growth and must be taken with all seriousness and care.
What is your first reaction when your child isn’t doing well in school? Is it to panic, blame the child, blame the teacher, or even blame the school system entirely? Can your child tell that you don’t value them enough to put in the work necessary for their growth? How do you respond when your child does something good or bad? How do you respond in times of crisis, even financial crisis?
All these affect how our children perceive us and their value in our lives.
When children come to school, they judge themselves based on factors like physical abilities, physical appearance and parents’ relation. These three things have nothing to do with the school, but affect their performance in school.
A parent with a low self esteem is likely to raise a child with one. A parent who doesn’t know himself is likely to raise children who have no idea who they are.
Therefore, before attempting to instill a healthy self esteem in a child, it is important to take note of the following:
▪Who you are
▪What you stand for
▪What you will ask them to do
▪What you will not ask them to do
▪What you will do for them
▪What you will not do for them
A parent that says to a child every morning, ” you are the mighty seed of a great man”, knows himself and is definitely charting a known and great path for that child. A child that is complemented by her parents already has a 75% chance at success than one who isn’t.
DEAR PARENT, YOU MATTER. AND YOUR INVOLVEMENT MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR CHILD’S PERFORMANCE AND SELF ESTEEM.
Moreover, children whose parents are more involved in their academics perform better than children whose parents are involved to a lesser degree.
In building your child’s self esteem and increasing their academic performance, your involvement is required. I can’t emphasize this enough: “children who do well in school don’t learn what they know in school alone; most of the work is done at home.”
Parent involvement isn’t only about helping with their school work but also about your attitude to their school work and your attitude to their teacher. Some of us don’t like our children’s teachers😀😀
Parents convey attitudes about education to their children during non-school hours, and this attitude is reflected in the child’s classroom behaviour and in the teacher’s relationship with the child and parent.
Trust me when I say your involvement in your child’s education positively or negatively influences your child’s relationships and behaviour in class.
Now, with respect to instilling a healthy self esteem, you must not disregard it. This is the error of most parents. If you don’t do it, the society will do it for you. Trust me the society is ever ready to add to your child the things you would rather they don’t have.
Focus on things that will only add to your child’s esteem and not decrease it. So, evaluate your every action and if it is going to hurt your child’s self esteem, don’t do it. Minimize embarrassment and use humour often. I’m sure even you can recall an embarrassing moment from your childhood and how it affected you.
This is not to shield your children from feelings of sadness, frustrations, and anxiety when they lose or fail. But use every failure to teach resilience and self control. See every thing as an opportunity to praise instead of blame.
In any bad situation, if you look well, there is always something to praise. In the school where I teach, it is forbidden for a teacher to write a negative report about a child. Whatever negativity a child has, I must find a positive way to communicate it to the parent. If I can go the mile to do that, trust me you should too. No matter how bad a child is, I will always find something good to report on. In fact, I must. Lol.
Praise can be a very powerful tool to promote self-esteem in children. It can also work the opposite if overused and/or not genuine. Look out for opportunities to praise their work or activities. If their work or actions don’t warrant or deserve praise, don’t be quick to blame or punish. Try to help the child understand what they could do to improve upon the activity next time. Do not offer false praise as a child will see through that very quickly. But like I said, there is always something to praise if we look well and just hold back our anger or frustrations for a bit.
Create a positive and caring environment. It would do well for them if you are optimistic and positive about life. Modelling is such a great tool in bringing up children. They look up to us for their life skills and tools. Be careful what you say and how you act in front of them because they are watching and are likely to internalize it just by watching you.
Let your children make their own choices. Like all of us, children want to be heard and have their ideas valued. Obviously, sometimes these ideas are not possible or a bit ridiculous. However foolish they may sound regardless, taking the time to listen to a child and actually hear what they have to say will make them feel valued. Also, by having the power to make their own choices and decisions, children will begin to feel capable and confident. This can be a step by step process, but it will work wonders in the long run. When we make all the choices and decisions for children, we are basically telling them they are helpless without us. As we slowly “loosen the strings”, positive self-esteem will follow and flourish.
Encourage them to be involved in social activities; create opportunities for them to be social. A lot of learning and skills development is done during play time. Children come up with various activities, leaders emerge, followers learn to follow. With careful observation as a parent at these times, you can easily spot the strengths and weaknesses of your child. So, maybe instead of that “owambe”, organize a play date for your children and watch them socialize.
It is in children’s nature to be inquisitive and to display their worth. It is very unlikely that your child hasn’t displayed any leadership ability. What is very likely is that you have shut it down or trivialized it hence such skills or abilities are now hidden or suppressed.
Encourage their leadership abilities. If they haven’t displayed any, create opportunities for them to do so. They thrive on this feeling of importance and begin to value themselves. Assign tasks and responsibilities at home. Tasks as simple as being your reminder for certain things, watching over their siblings, making sure their bed is laid, and other simple tasks around the house.
Finally, there are a million resources to help you online. Please, utilize them. Prioritize building up your children and being involved in their school work and life over anything.
Olabisi Ola-Soetan is an experienced teacher and an educational consultant. She is also a marriage counsellor for couples and couples to be. She is passionate about children and godly marriages. She is a Minister in training at His Master Piece Church in Ilupeju, Lagos, where she worships. She is a firm believer that parents and the environment have a major role in how a child turns out and that this role shouldn’t be left to chance. She is happily married to her lover Ola Soetan.