According to Merriam-Webster, the terms ‘self-esteem’ and ‘self-worth’ are synonymous, but we are here to tell you differently. Even though the two terms share a prefix, they are in fact different, describing completely separate traits within ourselves. Understanding the subtle difference between the two terms is crucial before we try to instill and teach positive self-esteem and self-worth to our students. Psychologist Dr. Christina Hibbert defines the distinction between each term best when she says:
“Self-esteem is what we think and feel and believe about ourselves. Self-worth is recognizing “I am greater than all of those things”. It is a deep knowing that I am of value, that I am loveable, necessary to this life, and of incomprehensible worth”(Dr. Christina Hibbert, 2014)
Positive self-esteem and self-worth encourages students to set healthy goals for themselves and to generally strive for overall happiness. Research shows that students with low self-esteem and self-worth often have mental health challenges, including issues with their relationships, depression and anxiety, and even addiction.
So we know that building positive self-esteem and self-worth is important, but how do we achieve that within our classrooms?
In the era of social media it is easy for our adolescents to focus on the approval of others and to lose sight of themselves. As educators, we have the power to lay the foundation for our students to develop critical social-emotional skills needed to be healthy and successful members of the community. Above all, we can be that voice that reminds our students that even if they cannot see their own self-worth, that our message is clear— “you are worthy and valuable”.
Everyday Speech has really opened up the social world to my students. The way the skills are modeled in the videos, with students who are just like them, makes it so engaging. My students love that after just a few lessons, they get to play a game to practice their skills. I can’t say enough amazing things about this platform!– Becky, M.A. CCC-SLP