How early experience shape one’s relationship with one’s self.

hand on head

 

Children need their parents’ love, attention, acceptance, and guidance as a plant needs water.  If they do not get it growing up, as adult they may spend their whole lives trying to get it from their parents.  They may also try to get it from bosses, friends, teachers, coaches,and neighbours as well.

Children tend to treat themselves how they are treated by their parents.  If both parents treated them well, children are likely to internalized this style, and treat themselves well.  This is also true if their parents treated them badly; they are likely to internalize that style and treat themselves badly.  Children’s self-esteem is also affected by how their parents treat each other.

It’s not that simple though.  Families are complicated.  There are so many factors influencing children’s self-esteem as they grow:  birth order, extended family, religious affiliations, talents, energy level, school and others.  Sometimes parents and grandparents (even other family members and teachers) prefer one gender to another.  Perhaps one parent prefers boys and the other prefers girls.  How people treat each gender impacts the children’s self-esteem positively or negatively.  Witnessing one’s siblings being favored or unflavored also influences his or her own self-esteem.

My father was the eldest of 10.  I don’t know why, but he did not like boys.  Growing up I was unaware of this, so I did not notice how he treated my brothers.  Perhaps it was because my father had 7 brothers and 2 sisters.  I was lucky.  I was born a girl in this family.  I felt adored by my father and I enjoyed his attention.  I liked being a girl.

It is common knowledge that parents, who treat their children badly, harm their children’s self-esteem.  It is also possible to harm a child’s self-esteem by excessive and undeserved praise.

Scenario

From the time Cercy was born, she was praised excessively by both parents, but mostly her mother.  Her self-esteem was extremely high.  She thought she was marvellous in every way.  When she went to school, she got a reality check.  She was not nearly as competent and capable as she had been led to believe.  It shook her confidence to the core.  She began to doubt herself.  She would dismiss praise or any positive feedback she received.

At the core of self-esteem is one’s relationship to one’s self.  What a child experiences in their family of origin, extended family, the neighbourhood, school, and other childhood experiences, heavily influences how a child treats himself.

This pattern, established in childhood, goes into the subconscious and operates out of awareness.  When the relationship with self is positive, no problem is created so it may work well for a lifetime.  If it’s not, it needs to be revised.  But how?

Next post will discuss how.

With care and concern,

Dr. Bea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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