Q. What is the difference between self-esteem and self-respect, as applied to children?
A. The answer to your question begins some 30 years ago, when “helping” professionals began promoting what they termed “high self-esteem” as the be-all, end-all of good mental health. In short order, the “self-esteem movement” developed, with its goal of spreading this psychological good news far and wide. To assist in this crusade, one was to think only positive thoughts and say only positive things about oneself and others.
The pursuit of self-esteem became an excuse to “do your own thing” - regardless of whether the “thing” in question was antisocial - and quickly mutated into self-worship.
Self-respect is gained not by being told how wonderful you are, but by developing respect for others. This idea - that giving respect is a precondition of getting respect (and developing self-respect) - is consonant with the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
The journey toward self-respect begins with the child developing respect for his or her parents. Responsibility for putting, and keeping, this process in motion lies with parents who are effective at turning the child into a disciple, one who will follow their lead.
These parents know where they stand and where they want the child to stand. They communicate their expectations calmly and unapologetically and discipline justly. As a consequence, the child looks up to his parents. He pays attention to them and does (for the most part) what he is told.
As this “gifted” child grows, the respect he has developed for his parents transfers to other authority figures, then to peers and so on until it eventually, hopefully, encompasses one’s “fellow man.”
Under optimal circumstances, this giving of respect comes full-circle sometime during late adolescence or early adulthood, and self-respect begins to mature.
The difference between self-esteem and self-respect is night and day. A person with high self-esteem thinks highly of himself. A person growing in self-respect understands that he is an imperfect being who was given the gift of life in order to serve.
The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = John Rosemond The Charlotte Observer
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