I subjected my stepdaughter of seven years to various stimuli with the purpose of testing her self esteem in relation to social relations, physical abilities and feelings of initiative and independence. Since the child had already been established in school, I realized it was important to test her self esteem in order to establish the gaps and assist her during this early age. The observations were made at the dining room table immediately after were had finished having dinner. I preferred to conduct the observations in the evening since it was very quiet with no destructions as the rest of the family members had gone to their respective rooms to relax or sleep. I used various items including handout, an assessment sheet on which the child was to rate herself, papers which were to be used by the child to draw and a marker for drawing.
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I sat with the child at the dining table facing each other and since she was always comfortable with me, I did not need to make any introductions or ice breakers. However, I had to establish what the child’s interests in school. I did so by asking her what she likes about school and her response was, I like to go to the library to find books to read with my friends.” I gave her the assessment sheet and after reading the first item in the assessment sheet, i.e. ‘I am a likeable person’, and explained that she was supposed to rate herself on the items I would be reading to her. I advised the child to indicate the points against the five criteria given on what she felt about herself. The child gladly put an x against rating of five which was at the extreme left of the sheet with an indication of ‘yes’. To ensure that the child was comfortable with the assessment, I opted to read for her as she indicated the marks for all the items in the assessment sheet.
Having completed the assessment, I gave the child the papers of 8 ½” x 11” and the markers and explained to the child that I wanted her to draw a picture of what she likes to do at school so that I can show it to my teacher. However, she was reluctant as she thought I would laugh at her drawings but I assured her that all I wanted to know is what her school life is all about and that the shape of the picture does not matter. The child drew a picture of herself sitting in the library with other kids around her with one kid holding an object on her arm. In the picture, they were all reading books and a female adult was looking and smiling at them. In addition, the background of the picture showed book shelves full of books.
In the process of drawing, the child said, “I am going to draw me and my friends at the library.” Having seen the picture, I asked her what the object on the little girl’s arm was and who the adult lady was, on which her response was, “that’s my best friend Jenny. She broke her arm in her cheer class. The lady is my teacher. She is my favorite.” When she completed drawing, she handed the picture to me and said, “Here, that’s for your teacher.”
Self esteem usually start at early age in life and is built as the child grows and interacts with the environment. In most cases, the learning process which involves trying out various things not only helps the child to build positive attitude, but also helps in creating emotional growth in the child. Children tend to build self esteem when they realize themselves early on including what they are good at or not which translates to industry and inferiority. For instance, the child was able to rate herself on what she felt was capable of e.g. she rated herself strongly in reading and poorly in playing tennis. In addition, children in the middle age are able to recognize themselves in terms of gender and peer group as can be seen in the observation where the child drew a picture of friends with whom she spent time in school. Moreover, general interaction is important to avoid instances the child developing gender stereotype. General interaction also enhances the child’s perception that they are loved which adds up to their confidence, for instance, the child rated herself highly as being liked by boys. However, it is during this time that parents and teachers who act as role models should come in to help the child about positive thinking and eliminate the element of prejudice. For instance, identifying and redirecting a child’s inaccurate beliefs will be important especially where the child indicated that she is not good in doing something is important. From the assessment, the child rated herself weak in sports and writing stories and therefore it is important to reassure the child that she is a great student and that sport and writing stories can be improved through working together with her. This was also indicated when I assured the girl that the shape of drawings was not important and that was she drew was fine. Learning problems are also observed in the early years of the child but with interactions with other people both at home and in school, the child develops mental health that allows her to improve on learning. This is also facilitated by assurances by the mentor that what she is doing is fine to avoid developing perceptions that she is stupid or she is incapable of doing something. This observation using the self assessment and drawing especially for a child of this age is important as it helps to understand the development of the child’s transitive thinking and reversibility especially as the child moves from the pre-operation stage to concrete operations stage of cognitive development.
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