Self-esteem is commonly referred to as the “evaluations people make and maintain of themselves. It includes attitudes of approval or disapproval and the degree to which we feel worthy, capable, significant, and effective”. By fostering these five basic attitudes, we can help to influence the level of self-esteem in our young friends:
Sense of security – knowing what is expected, feeling safe and protected, being able to trust others, and being able to anticipate the sequence of events from experience.
- To heighten feelings of security, provide an environment with well-established routines, treat your friend with respect, clearly define limits, and let them know what is expected of them. Consistency is key!
Sense of identity – the sense of personal awareness or self-perceptions individuals have about themselves.
- Children who are frequently reminded of how messy they are, how much trouble they cause, or how often they are late are likely to continue to be messy, in trouble, and late. As mentors, we can help build positive self-images in our friends by providing positive feedback and calling attention to their strengths and positive qualities.
Sense of belonging – in order for children to feel good about themselves, they must feel accepted by others, and feel a part of something larger than themselves that they can be proud of.
- Our friends may lack the social skills necessary for acceptance by others because they have either not been taught them or they have not had the opportunity to interact with peers or adults. By modeling appropriate behavior in interpersonal and public situations, we can improve our friend’s social skills and in turn, reduce their feelings of isolation and increase their feelings of belonging.
Sense of purpose – Self-esteem that stems from being the person one wants to be, achieving their goals, or solving one’s own problems.
- Help your friend set realistic goals for themselves and become aware of the meaning and purpose of those goals. This makes their behavior more purposeful and effective and will help them to feel good about the progress they are making.
Sense of competence – the belief that we can meet our goals, overcome the problems we face, and achieve the success we dream about.
- We can help our friend to improve decision making skills by being the supplier of information, options, and resources and also reminding them of the goal or dream so that it is not forgotten. Provide support or guidance when it is needed and give feedback about the progress that is being made.
As Compeer volunteers we can provide children and adults with experiences that will enable them to better understand themselves, realize what choices and options are available to them, engage in satisfying social relationships, and gradually take responsibility for their lives.