Teaching self esteem versus self respect

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Self-respect and self-esteem are not synonymous. Here are the definitions:

a proper sense of one’s own dignity and integrity
self-respectful , self-respecting adj

1. respect for or a favourable opinion of oneself
2. an unduly high opinion of oneself; vanity

(Source: Collins English dictionary)

And this from All About Life Challenges:

Are self-respect and self-esteem the same? An individual with a healthy self-respect “likes” themselves — even when encountering the inevitable failures in life. To esteem something is to “hold in high regard.” Self-respect and self-esteem are quite different. Self-esteem balances precariously upon a comparison with someone who’s always “a little better.” When we esteem someone or something, we face serious trouble if we do not measure up to those standards. Our esteem may ebb and flow, whereas a healthy self-respect (liking ourselves) is always grounded in what we are (and are not) — not in what we can or cannot accomplish. I love to ice skate. I love to watch professional skaters. For years I took private lessons and trained on a personal skating rink. Yet I am not an exceptional skater. Realizing that I am not “Olympic material” doesn’t affect my self-respect.

I think we do a huge disservice to our children when we stress self-esteem instead of self-respect.

Self-esteem teaches:
“I can be anything I want to be in life.”

Self-respect teaches:
“If I set realistic goals, work/train/study diligently, I greatly increase my chances to realize my dreams.”

Self-esteem teaches:
“I should always be treated with respect and dignity.”

Self-respect teaches:
“I have an expectation of being treated with the same respect and dignity I afford others, but when that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t mean I have a right to demand it nor does it mean I’m not respectful or dignified.”

Self-esteem teaches:
“I’m a winner just for showing up.”

Self-respect teaches:
“I’m good at some things. If I’m the best, I may be rewarded. When someone else is rewarded for something they excel in, I applaud their reward and can appreciate their achievement.”

Self-esteem teaches:
“I am special. I have the right to express my individuality by the way I dress. No one has the right to censor my creative spirit.”

Self-respect teaches:
“I am a unique individual. I can express my individuality without disrespecting/offending the expected and accepted norms of a given group dynamic.”

Self-esteem teaches:
“I am entitled.”

Self-respect teaches:
“I am worthy.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much over the self-esteem bandwagon. It’s a heck of a lot easier to teach kids to conform to their surroundings than it is to attempt to conform the surroundings to the kid, and I’m pretty sure they will survive with their individuality and unique personalities in tact.

“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” ~ 1 Corinthians 4:2-4

For more posts on the topic of Children, visit Bridget Chumbley’s place, One Word at a Time.

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