Self-respect not to be confused with self-esteem (part 1)

The following is my attempt to summarise the thought provoking public lecture that Toni Noble gave last Wednesday evening at St Peters College. It will take at least 2 blogs. The information I believe is appropriate for any one who relates to children. I hope you enjoy.


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The lecture was opened with a question – “True or false: kids who bully other kids have a low self esteem?” I have to admit that I was surprised to learn ‘false’. Often bully’s have an inflated view of self worth.

The second true or false question was “Do young people with a high self-esteem perform better academically?” The answer to that was also false and Toni mentioned that this illustrates the failure of the self esteem movement.


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Toni defined self-esteem as a person’s self perception and evaluation which is not necessarily reality.  It is conditional, self defeating and ultimately destructive.

In 1995 Seligman found that bolstering self-esteem actually erodes a persons sense of worth because it emphasizes how ones ‘feels’ rather than what ones ‘does’ and that may lead to being vulnerable to depression. For example, a child may feel they are brilliant at sport, but in reality they may be average.  When the realisation comes that they are not brilliant, it can be difficult to process.


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Whereas self respect is “an attitude of self-acceptance and approval for your own character and conduct.  Having self-respect means you are more likely to be successful and happy and earn the respect of others.” (Lecture notes by Toni Noble – Developing your self-respect)

At this stage, there is very little research for self-respect and children.

You can’t have too much self respect, but you can have too much self-esteem.


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2 thoughts on “Self-respect not to be confused with self-esteem (part 1)

    • It is really interesting and as to be expected there are some who still support the self-esteem concept. One researcher was an avid supporter of self-esteem in the 90’s and he has been quite vocal in his change of mind…might be another blog one day! r x


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