A Life Story Includes The Notions Of Self-Esteem And Self-Image Building Self-Esteem

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Building Self-Esteem

A therapeutic model for developing self-esteem

A few years ago as a young graduate student I heard my favorite professor, Dr. Alan Anderson of the University of Minnesota, discuss the role of birth order in the development of self-esteem. As a behaviorist my response to this approach to human growth and development has mostly been to dismiss the concept as irrelevant.

Dr. Anderson’s office had a series of similar metal rocking chairs, which brought back many special memories because my father bought one just like them for my mother when I was born. I shared this with Dr. Anderson and he told me that when I completed my Ph.D. Successfully he would have given me one of his that I inherited from my parents, if I would only listen to him and understand his ideas more fully. After several years of long and drawn out negotiations he won me over and made my mind think in a completely different direction. So I’m going to credit Dr. Alan Anderson for what I’m going to write here.

Adding to Dr. Anderson’s thinking came years of my own clinical observations. I often teach these concepts to my students and have them report to me to reinforce that the concepts have been helpful to them in their own clinical practice. Several of my students took me out to lunch recently and begged me to put these ideas down in writing for their benefit if nothing else. I have chosen a personal and anecdotal approach to this presentation rather than a strictly scholarly and research based one although this may come in a revised version.

Over the years I have come to believe that the beginning of the development of self-esteem is related to the quality of relationships between parents or significant adults in a child’s environment at birth. Children don’t need to be told where they come from – they feel it instinctively. Mothers often report that somewhere in the first trimester of their pregnancy they sense a certain quality of this developing baby’s personality, but that is an entirely different matter and not my focus here.

My description of the process begins at birth. At birth a baby acquires the ability to observe its environment, and an important part of that observation is the ability to observe how their mother is treated. The first gift a child receives comes from observing the way their mother is treated. If the mother is regarded as a valuable and valuable person, the child makes an automatic assumption that she is also a valuable and valuable person. I constantly tell dads how important it is how they treat and communicate with their wives. Fathers should always treat their children’s mothers with respect. They should always treat him and talk to him in a way that clearly indicates that they see him as a person of great worth, value and equal to the power and authority to manage the affairs of the family.

What I learned from Dr. Anderson has guided my thinking and observations over the years. I submit that the first child in a family enjoys the attention of both parents until the advent of the second child. At this point, the mother’s preoccupation with this new entry into the family results in her or his attention to the father. If this connection is made between the child and the father, the process of developing a strong and stable self-esteem in the child continues in a positive direction. When this emotional bonding and connection does not occur, there can be major problems for the child in adulthood. The first principle is that the self-esteem of the eldest child in the family depends greatly on the quality of the emotional bond and relationship between the first child and the father.

The second child seems to rest comfortably with the mother and the second principle is that the self-esteem of the second child in the family depends on the quality of the emotional bond and relationship between the second child and the mother.

The third child enters a balanced system and consequently becomes what Dr. Anderson calls a “watchman.” This child seems to focus their attention on an observation of the quality of the relationship between the parents and actually seems to take some responsibility for the preservation of that relationship. The third principle is that the self-esteem of the third child in the family depends on the quality of the relationship between the parents.

The fourth is the “garbage collector.” He or she seems to take what remains and is influenced by the strength and quality of the family system as a whole. The fourth principle is that the self-esteem of the fourth child in the family depends on the relationships, structure and stability of the family.

With the fifth child the process begins again with little additions. The self-esteem of the fifth child in the family depends on the emotional bond and relationship between the fifth child and the father as well as the eldest child.

Knowing this as a place to start can be very beneficial for a clinician. If my client has an older child and is suffering from self-esteem issues, it makes sense to at least ask about the relationship between the client and the father. If it’s fruitful, you’ve saved yourself some exploration time – if not, nothing’s lost.

Self-esteem begins with childhood experiences. A degree of self-esteem is supported by the experience of continuous success. Self-esteem is how a person feels about themselves. It is a calming response to oneself – self-esteem. When you have this inside – you are happy to be you. You don’t need to impress others with it, you know you have value. Each person’s decision about themselves affects the type of friends they choose, how they relate to others, the type of person they marry, and how productive they will be. It influences creativity, integrity and stability. Self-esteem forms the core of personality and determines the use of one’s abilities and abilities. A therapist helps a client develop a strong and sincere belief in himself. Strong self-esteem and self-esteem are based on the strong belief that they are lovable, that they matter and have value because they exist. If they feel they are worthwhile, they can manage their environment efficiently and they know they have something to offer others.

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