“When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments, tenderness for what he is, and respect for what he may become.” – Louis Pasteur –
Self-esteem in the classroom
Self-esteem plays a big part in children’s academic performance and for the children who suffer from low self-esteem it can affect their schoolwork. Until their self-esteem is raised it is difficult to improve their academic abilities.
Children will sometimes act out with bad behavior rather than be told off for poor work. The same goes if they have not understood what they have to do during class. The behavior ends up covering up their lack of understanding and their negative belief in the ability to do the work. For some children they find it the lesser of two evils to be told off for their behavior rather than be told off in front of their friends that their work is not good enough. Children can be extremely sensitive to criticism especially if it is in front of their peers.
I recently worked with a young boy who became quite disruptive during art classes. His behaviour was quite distracting to the class but after some investigation it turned out that he was very frustrated as he found it difficult to draw. He wanted his drawing to look like the object he was drawing. He wanted it to be perfect. I showed him some paintings of Picasso and explained that not everyone draws and paints the same way and that it was fine for a painting to not look perfect. He asked endless questions about Picasso and when he went back to continue his drawing he seemed much calmer and more relaxed. He proceeded to draw without any negative or disruptive behavior. Art class for him is now much more enjoyable because he understands that it doesn’t have to be perfect. I later heard him chat to a friend who was having difficulty with his drawing. He was explaining about Picasso and telling the boy not to worry but to just try his best.
Sometimes we don’t realize what high expectations the children have of themselves.