THE PROBLEM

Poor Self-esteem has reached epidemic proportions and no segment of the population is spared its devastating effects. According to statistics from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a child is bullied every 7 minutes on secondary school playgrounds and 85% of that bullying goes ignored.

Studies show that healthy self-esteem protects children from involvement in bullying[1].But bullying, which gets the majority of the public’s attention, is far from the only damaging result of poor self-esteem.

“Incident obesity between the ages of 5 and 14 years was more likely to have occurred at younger ages, primarily among children who had entered kindergarten overweight[2]

The adolescent bullying, obesity, substance abuse, addictions, poor grades, truancies and suicides of which society has become aware are not the entire problem but merely the tip of the iceberg. They are the results of the deep-rooted, underlying problem of poor self-esteem that was actually developed as very young children.

Poor self-esteem that goes unnoticed and untreated by the time a child reaches adolescence has been linked to expectations of poor health, criminal behavior and limited economic prospects during adulthood[3].

“By age 5 children have a sense of self-esteem comparable in strength to that of adults, according to a new study by University of Washington researchers. Because self-esteem tends to remain relatively stable across one’s lifespan, the study suggests that this important personality trait is already in place before children begin kindergarten[4]

The evidence is clear and irrefutable that self-esteem, be it healthy or poor, is mostly developed by 5 years old. It is widely accepted that exhibiting poor choices and the inability to set appropriate boundaries during adolescence and adulthood are the manifestations of poor self-esteem. The connection has been made.

However, very few people are aware of these recent revelations in child development and of those who are aware most don’t believe it is possible that self-esteem is mostly developed by 5 years old. As a result, nothing is being done to help preschool children develop healthy self-esteem before entering kindergarten.

This needs to change right now, right here. Ignorance is not bliss and the wellbeing of our children and grandchildren is at stake.

[1]Aggressive Behavior, July 28, 2001
[2]The New England Journal of Medicine, January 30, 2014
[3]The American Psychological Society 2006, Vol. 42, No. 2, 381–390
[4]Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, January 2016