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What is self-esteem?

John Preston, PsyD
Psychology
Self-esteem, to put it simply, is a measure of how we feel about ourselves, our sense of our own value as human beings and our understanding of what we bring to the world.

People with low self-esteem struggle with feelings of inferiority and worthlessness, often despite positive feedback from friends, loved ones and colleagues.

Low self-esteem brings with it strong feelings of inadequacy, indecisiveness, low self-confidence and unrealistic or overly harsh self-criticism. As you might imagine, low self-esteem and depression frequently go together.

People with high or healthy self-esteem have a generally accurate view of themselves, including a nuanced understanding of both their strengths and weaknesses, and a sense of being generally valuable and worthwhile despite their imperfections, even in the midst of difficult events or circumstances.
Depression 101: A Practical Guide to Treatments, Self-Help Strategies, and Preventing Relapse

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Michele Borba
Psychology
Real self-esteem is a combination of a feeling of worthiness: “I am likeable, loved and worthwhile,” and a feeling of competence: “I have the skills to handle life.” [Based on work of Nathaniel Branden]

Focusing on only worthiness -- or making your child feel more special than others -- is a detriment to a child’s character and relationships with others. Always rescuing (or “helicoptering”) and solving your child’s problems doesn’t nurture that sense of competence.

Aim to strike a balance in your parenting of building your child’s feelings of worthiness and competence.
The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries

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Today show's Michele Borba's cures for difficult childhood behaviors In this down-to-earth guide, parenting expert Michele Borba offers advice for dealing with children's difficult behavior and hot...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.