Self-esteem involves the way individuals perceive themselves and is considered an important component of emotional health. Normally, people with low self-esteem have a hard time when faced with problems, are overly critical, and can sometimes display signs of withdrawal, become passive, or depressed. They are also likely to be afraid to try new things, have a negative opinion about themselves, easily frustrated, and often perceive small problems as permanent conditions that cannot be solved. On the other hand, too much self-confidence often results in a feeling of self-entitlement and inability to learn from one’s mistakes. Perhaps, the topic on self-esteem is one of the self-help topics that have attracted so many conflicting theories in a bid to strike a balance between self-knowledge and respect of who an individual is.
Self-esteem in Early childhood
Ideally, self-esteem begins in childhood. Parents, siblings, friends, teachers, and sometimes the media play a significant role in how a child perceives him or herself. Often, children with low self-esteem have problems dealing with issues, are sometimes withdrawn from their peers, and may become passive (Sunderland & Armstrong, 2017). They are also afraid of trying new things such as new play and may find it hard interacting with their peers who they perceive as better than them. On the other hand, children with self-confidence have a positive attitude towards competition, diversity, and often perform better in academics and sports. Similarly, children with self-esteem are not afraid of expressing themselves to their peers and adults.
Self-esteem in Adolescence
Self-esteem in adolescence is an overall reflection of an individual’s self-worth and an important determinant of an adolescent mental health and development. According to Robins & Trzesniewski (2016), self-esteem in adolescents is often attributed to body image and problems that come along with puberty. Male teens, who have matured early, are masculine, and athletic often have a high level of self-esteem. By contrast, female adolescents are likely to have low self-esteem when they have early physical maturation. Ideally, for teenagers fitting in the circle of their peer is important to their self-esteem. Relationship with the opposite sex is also a major source of confidence or lack of it. Thus most of them are likely to interact with members of opposite gender.
Self-esteem in Early adulthood
Early adulthood is a stage when adolescents become more independent and explore life’s different possibilities. According to Orth & Robins (2014), at this time, it is hard to determine an individual’s self-esteem as it is highly determined by the various aspects of their life. People who are more emotionally stable and conscientious have positive self-esteem as compared to individuals who have low emotional stability.
Self-esteem in Middle Adulthood
Various studies have observed that self-esteem increases during adulthood and gets to its peak in the late 60s. Ideally, over the course of adulthood, people increasingly gain power and social status in society, which is more likely to promote feelings of self-worth (Robins & Trzesniewski, 2016). Consistent with these theories, in middle adulthood, the personality of an individual is often determined by levels of maturity and adjustments from emotional stability and conscientiousness.
Self-esteem in Late adulthood
Unfortunately, self-esteem declines in old adulthood when people reach around 70 years and above. The drop iofs often associated with the changes that occur during old age including relationships such as loss of a spouse or when one develops health problems (Robins & Trzesniewski, 2016). A drop in social, economic status is also likely to affect people in late adulthood as individuals struggle to maintain their self-worth. These people are more liable to acknowledge their faults and sometimes have diminished positive attitude towards themselves and others.
Essentially, self-esteem is an overall reflection of an individual’s self-worth and involves one’s belief and their emotional response to the beliefs. It is also evident that the concept of self-esteem in ubiquitous in the contemporary life of an individual. People tend to have low or high levels of self-esteem in their various stages of childhood and maturity. Ultimately, it is clear that self-esteem is often high during childhood and adulthood, but declines in adolescence and late adulthood.
Orth, U., & Robins, R. W. (2014). The Development of Self-Esteem. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(5), 381-387.
Robins, R. W., & Trzesniewski, K. H. (2016). Self-Esteem Development Across the Lifespan. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(3), 158-162.
Sunderland, M., & Armstrong, N. (2017). Helping children with low self-esteem: A guidebook. London: Routledge.
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