Am I good or bad?

Parenting – Dignity vs. Self-esteem

by Aigul Aubanova on February 7, 2011

in It's All About Dignity

The word dignity has no precise and simple definition. Many experts though mention its closest synonym – self-esteem. What is the relation between these two terms? How does knowing the difference impact parenting skills?

The self-explanatory meaning of self-esteem is focused on one’s self. It’s important for a child to have a high opinion about his value, to esteem his or her self. Many parents set a goal to develop high self-esteem in children. However, once this goal is met, the following questions need to be considered when  comparing dignity and self-esteem.

What’s in a child’s mind?

A healthy developed sense of dignity includes a child’s high self-esteem. A child who knows his or her dignity is confident about his or her value, “I am good.“ In addition, a child is able to value other people highly, “They are good too.” If only self-esteem is taken into consideration, a child may still be obsessed with the questions: “Am I good or bad?” “Am I better than others?”

Does a child need a praise?

Dignity gives a child a truthful sense of value, a sense of the truth about her. When a child does something good, she does need the recognition, as everybody else. however, she won’t suffer if she won’t receive it. It’s because she knows that she did a good job, she knows she is good. On the other hand, self-esteem of a child may be artificially imposed. A child may have been told that she is good. But she would keep worrying about the proof of her being good. Often it happens that parents over-emphasize the praising of a child without a child putting in maximum efforts to the work.

Why does a child please others?

When a child grows with full sense of dignity he or she strives to please people for the sake of goodness, to feel good for others. This is joy! Unfortunately, not many kids know such joy. When a child knows only self-esteem, he or she please people for the sake of him or her self – to feel good about themselves, to get approval and praise.

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