‘I am useless at school.’
‘My school report is bad.’
‘I have no friends.’
It is that time of the year for kids. It is busy, they are tired and sometimes the world just looks like it is against them.
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These types of comments by kids are ‘global’ and pessimistic. When one is aware of these types of comments, it is possible to turn them around.
‘I am useless at school’ can be rephrased as ‘I am really not good at spelling’.
‘My school report is bad’ can be rephrased as ‘In my school report I did not do well in maths’.
‘I have no friends’ can be rephrased as ‘I am having difficulties with one group of boys’.
Can you see the difference?
I know as an adult sometimes I ‘globalise’ how things are going when really it is just a few areas that I might be struggling with.
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“Children who latch on to global explanations for their failures give up on everything when they fail in just one realm. Children who believe specific explanations may become helpless in that one realm yet march stalwartly on in the rest.” (“The optimistic child” by Martin Seligman page 57)
May you look for ‘global pessimism’ and enjoy rephrasing it into specific explanations!
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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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