Education and the Importance of Self-Esteem

Is the issue that we should be more forgiving when kids make mistakes? I often find myself making errors, stuttering, and having difficulty finding words. Are we overly concerned with diagnosing kids ?

It would be wonderful if the problem could be resolved simply by greater acceptance. Few people are more caring and committed than people who elect to work with children. The problem is not that they treat error in a harsh manner. The issue is that children who experience high rates of error see them as incontrovertible proof that they are “stupid.” Once that feeling takes hold, its grip is tenacious. The child’s self-esteem plummets, often never fully recovering.

For example, parents and teachers sense the children’s vulnerability and with the best of intentions, try to bolster their egos via compliments such as, ” But you are really smart ,” and ” Look at how many things you do well .” Unfortunately, the comments rarely achieve their intended effects. As one student put it, ” If I were really smart, they wouldn’t have to keep assuring me of it. “

Acceptance is vital. But we cannot provide children with what they need until we have the techniques in place so that error becomes an infrequent occurrence and success -true success-becomes the dominant reality.

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