‘Between 2014 and 2015, there were 35,244 counselling sessions for low self-esteem; an increase of 9% from the previous year.
Many children reported the ever-growing influence of the Internet in their lives was leaving them feeling isolated, with many saying that social media led to them comparing themselves to others, and feeling inferior, ugly, and unpopular as a result.’
NSPCC, 2015 Report
Considering today’s near catastrophic levels of social media addiction, it is fairly safe to assume present stats are far worse. Indeed, according to the findings of a recent survey by OA Empowerment, over 60% of teens believe they are inferior to others.
And yet, is this not the age of affirmation??!
Why do self-esteem and confidence levels continue to spiral?
After attending a motivational conference several years ago, and feeling energised as a result of being surreptitiously whipped into a frenzy, I called a friend of mine to tell her….actually, cancel that; better to relay the actual conversation.
ME: “You seriously missed-out today. The conference was absolutely amazing! So powerful!!
Friend: “Are you serious? Can’t believe I wasn’t able to come. I’d been looking forward to it for yonks! So annoyed I couldn’t make it.”
ME: “Really wish you’d been there. Really powerful conference. And the speaker was out of this world!”
Friend: “Tell me more. What did you learn?”
ME: “It was amazing! He basically told us we can achieve our dreams and stuff. And..and…well..he told us we can achieve anything we want etc.”
Friend: “Awesome! What else?”
ME: “Er….that’s more or less it, really.”
Needless to say, the exhilaration within dissipated rather sharpish, as I realised I couldn’t really put my finger on what I gained from the conference, asides from frenzied excitement.
In other words, there was no substance.
Affirmation without substance is generally short-lived. And by substance, I mean foundation.
One of the biggest reasons both adults and youngsters struggle with low self-esteem and poor confidence levels is because we spend most of our lives comparing ourselves to others. The more we do so, the more inadequate and inferior we feel. Social media isn’t going to disappear any time soon, so unless we address the fundamentals, things will continue to worsen.
The most effective and sustainable solution to overcoming low self-esteem and poor confidence among children is to enable them to identify who they are. Not who they would like to be or wish they were, but who they are.
There are three simple steps to this.
1. Identify their specific talents
2. Identify their unique passion
3. Identify their inherent values
All the above are intrinsically linked, and more or less make up an individual’s DNA.
Education should never be just about getting the necessary grades at school, but also tailored towards helping children / teens identify who they are and the things that make them tick. By doing so, a child is empowered to be a lot more focused, productive, and ultimately successful in whatever he or she does.
Permit me to give you an inkling of how this works.
There’s a video I often play to both primary and secondary school pupils during my sessions, in which several teenagers relate their greatest achievements. When asked what his greatest achievement is, one of the teenagers replies;
“My greatest achievement is that I have collected all 635 Pokemon. Yep, every single one!”. Students usually burst into laughter at this point; and indeed it is quite amusing.
But I then ask them what they think it took, in terms of talents and attributes, for him to collect all 635 Pokemon.
The answer – investment in time, determination, patience, perseverance, and focus. In other words, that young man already has the necessary skills /attributes to achieve whatever he sets his mind on.
The skills / attributes he utilised to collect all 635 Pokemon are not only embedded inside him but are also the same ones he will use to succeed in whatever he does.
Many youngsters (and adults) do not value the skills and attributes they already possess, for two reasons.
1. They as yet haven’t identified them
2. They belittle their talents because they compare themselves to others, and as a result spend most of their time wishing they had what others have.
We all suffer from low self-esteem and poor confidence from time to time. But for children /teens, it is a fast growing epidemic.
Affirmation can only go so far.
Regardless of how invigorating a motivational session may be, unless one is able to identify the specific talents to fuel the motivation, the euphoria will fade swiftly.
Motivational talks provide short-term highs; nothing more.
The solution to sustained positive self-esteem and confidence is self-discovery – identifying who one is.
This is why I always insist primary school children bring a pen and paper to my free ‘Inspire and Motivate’ assemblies. The objective of the free assemblies is to ensure each child is able to identify at least one of his / her talents, thereby empowering them with an authentic realisation of what they can achieve.
Every child has his or her own talents and attributes. Our role is to help each child uncover them.
Finally, permit me to use a biblical example to emphasise the importance of helping a child / teen identify who she is, and what her strengths are.
After volunteering to fight Goliath, David was given the king’s body armour, shield, and sword. However, he quickly realised the weaponry was not his style, and so opted for what he knew he had the skill set for – a sling and a pebble. In other words, he chose the weapon and battle strategy that was right for him.
In the same way, by helping a child /teen identify her talents, passion, and values, we not only empower her with the knowledge of who she is, but also enable her to recognise her own unique path to success.