I recently found my little cousin reading during her playtime. I wondered if she had a test coming up, but her response was somewhat unnerving. According to her, she didn’t have a test, but she was reading because “Whenever I raise my hand to answer any question asked in class, my teacher would say “put your hands down you can’t know it.” Wow! I encouraged her to get over it, but that got me thinking about how her self-esteem was getting depleted in the very place it was supposed to get a boost.
have confirmed long ago that when students feel good about themselves, they are
much more likely to become better achievers in the classroom. Every
student desires to learn and be successful in school. If they are not, we must
strive to understand the nature of their learning problems. When students acquire
healthy levels of self-confidence, they are better equipped to face the stress
of school. Students with self-confidence pay more attention in class, get along
better with their peers and generally have a more focused and inquisitive
attitude. If students are demonstrating self-defeating behaviours
such as quitting, not trying, or acting like the class clown or class bully, we
must recognize these are ineffective coping strategies that often mask feelings
of vulnerability, low self-esteem, and hopelessness. Rather than impose punitive consequences, we
must ask how to minimize the despair these youngsters experience each and every
To lessen the
use of these ineffective coping behaviours, educators need to teach these
youngsters in ways they can learn best and make accommodations when needed. Each
child or adolescent possesses areas of strength that should be identified,
reinforced, and displayed by their teachers. Teaching to the child’s strengths does not deny
the child’s problems but recognizes the importance of using the child’s
strengths as an important component of any intervention program. Building students’
confidence by setting them up for success and providing positive feedback along
with frequent praise are essential tools for both teachers and parents. Think
about yourself, the more confident you feel, the better you feel about the task
at hand and your ability to do it. These are ways to help grow your students’
Accentuate the Positive
Prompt children to state things they can do well, things they feel good about. Give children the opportunity to tell you 10 things they like about themselves. You will be surprised at how many children suffering from low self-esteem have difficulty with this task. (This is also a great beginning of the year activity).
Those suffering from low self- esteem tend to
focus on the negative. You’ll hear statements like: ‘Oh, I am no good at that”.
This may indicate that this person needs to like themselves more.
2. Give Only-Genuine Praise
If you provide empty praise, they will not
feel as motivated to push themselves harder. Provide positive feedback to your
students when appropriate. Tell them when they’ve done a good job on an exam or
report. Children thrive on praise and will push themselves to do well if they
know you will be proud of them for their achievements.
Focus on constructive feedback. Praise effort and highlight ways to improve as those suffering from low self-esteem struggle the most when given criticism. Be sensitive to this. Always remember that self-esteem is about how much children feel valued, appreciated, accepted, loved and having a good sense of self-worth. Understand that as parents and teachers, you play one of the biggest roles in how good or bad a child can feel about themselves. Influence from a parent or teacher can make and break a child’s sense of self-esteem. Don’t abuse it.
realistic goals for each student
Recognize that every child is different and
has different learning capabilities. Make goals realistically achievable so
that children will feel a sense of accomplishment when the goal is completed. Don’t make tasks
too easy or too challenging.
5. Use teaching
strategies that provide an opportunity for equal participation
In the classroom, arrange chairs in a
circle so that all students have the opportunity to make eye contact with each
other. Students learn confidence from trying to answer questions and solve
problems on their own.
6. Create an
open, positive environment for learning
Get to know your students on an
individual level. Call them by name when you ask them a question. Give them
credit for trying even when they give the wrong answer.
enthusiasm for the subject you are teaching and for your students’ success
Students will become bored and
apathetic if they sense that you are bored or distracted. If you are
enthusiastic about your students’ success, your students will also be more
motivated to achieve their goals.
8. Turn Errors and mistakes inside out
Turn mistakes inside out and focus on what was or will be learned from the mistake. This helps a child focus on the positive, not the negative. Remind students that everyone makes mistakes but, how those mistakes are handled makes the difference. We need to see them as learning opportunities. All students are concerned about making mistakes and looking foolish. However, youngsters with learning problems typically experience more failure situations than peers who do not have these problems. Thus, they are even more vulnerable and fearful of failing.
Self-esteem is an important component of almost everything children do. Not only will it help with academic performance, but it also supports social skills and makes it easier for children to have and keep positive relationships with peers and teachers. Children are also better equipped to cope with mistakes, disappointment, and failure; they are more likely to stick with challenging tasks and complete learning activities. Self-esteem is needed life-long and teachers need to remember they play an important role in nurturing a student’s sense of dignity.