Self-esteem refers to the extent to which we admire or value ourselves. Self-esteem derives from our attitudes, feelings, judgments, or evaluations of how capable, significant, successful, and worthy we are. Children -- and adults -- with high self-esteem are responsible and selfcontrolled, perceive themselves realistically, own up to their strengths and weaknesses, take pride in their accomplishments, and are not threatened by the successes of others.
Most parents recognize the importance of helping children develop positive self-esteem and place this as a high priority on their list of parental objectives. Parents recognize that if children see themselves as worthwhile, useful, lovable, competent human beings, they will be able to lead happy and productive lives. If, on the other hand, children feel worthless, unlovable, and incompetent, their lives will be plagued with self-doubt, self-pity, interpersonal ineffectiveness, and lack of success in all that they do. Without self-love, any solid and general growth of character and accomplishment is hardly possible. Nor is it possible to love others. "Indeed," says Robert Louis Stevenson, "he who loves himself, not in idle vanity, but with a plentitude of knowledge, is the best equipped of all to love his neighbors." A self-neglecting child shrinks from developing and asserting himself or herself because of uncertainty and mortification. To be healthy, at home in the world with a prospect of power, usefulness, and success, children must have healthy self-esteem.
Positive self-esteem is a basic need for every human being. Just as the body needs nutritious food to be healthy, so the personality needs esteem from others and from self to achieve emotional health. As parents, we want our children to develop healthy evaluations of themselves so that they may become successful, happy, well-adjusted adults.