* Focus on the negative
If your parents or teachers/carers noticed what you did wrong or where you fell short of their expectations (which may well have been unrealistic) but didn’t praise you for what you did achieve.
* High expectations
Some high achieving parents assume their children will also be brilliant, clever and do well at school but this is not always the case of course. You might have been differently excellent in your own way but if it was not what was expected for you it may not have been recognised.
* Negative comparisons
When parents or teachers constantly compare you with other brighter pupils or siblings and feel that you are ‘not good enough’.
When parents’ busy lives and stressful occupations, frequent absences and lack of contact result in a child not receiving the emotional and physical support they need when growing up.
Children who have been physically or verbally abused find it difficult to feel valued.
* Being different
If you were very different from your peers or siblings through being a different colour, size, culture, religion or temperament this can lead to feelings of low esteem. Sometimes just wearing glasses, having a stutter or a skin condition can make a child feel different.
These situations do not necessarily lead to low self-esteem. It is not the facts in themselves that create it but your perceptions of the facts. You may have a perception that whatever you do is wrong or notice the negative responses rather than the positive ones and this can be the result of a pattern in parents. For example, if a parent constantly puts themselves down or has low self-esteem themselves, their child could therefore almost look out for situations or experiences that would lead them to have this themselves. Similarly you can have biased interpretation such that you subconsciously distort the meaning you attach to the situation. For example, if your parent says something positive you still decide that they didn’t mean it or were just trying to be nice.
Who we are is not so much about the roles we play, what we do for a living or how we spend our time. We are who we are because of how we respond to what we experience. Take a group of people and expose them to the same experience and they will each respond differently. This difference is explained by the fact that we will base our response to events and people on a number of factors such as:
- Childhood – how we were brought up, where, by whom and in what culture
- Our age – attitudes change with time our response will be different to anyone younger or older than us depending on the environment we were brought up in, the mores of our generation
- Gender – men and women are different!
- Past experience of the event or person
- Values – what we feel is important in life
- Beliefs – what we hold to be true about the world
How our parents brought us up, their values and beliefs will have been passed on to us both subconsciously and directly in terms of spoken instructions. They in turn will have been influenced by their parents of course. If you were brought up by one parent this will have affected you and be different from say your partner who may have been brought up by two parents. The area in which you spent your childhood will affect who you are and the cultural environment. One only has to witness two colleagues suddenly discovering they went to the same school or lived in the same town to experience the sense of kinship they have from this shared environment.
We are unique, we are the result of the beliefs of our parents, their parents, our teachers and the environment itself. We are special people and we need to love ourselves so our children can love themselves.