NOTE: Until specified otherwise, everything applies to girls too.
Subject: Can mother-love convince a child to like himself, today, tomorrow, and later in life? I respond in the negative. I undertake to prove this principle. Success fulfilling his and her ambitions determines how well children learn to like themselves as a male or female in adulthood.
We need precise definitions to disprove common opinions floating in the domestic ether and political and politically correct environments. We also need a clear picture of the process of growing up, which follows the sequence of bolded titles below.
My first bolded title—self-esteem—will fly in your face as incorrect; too different from what you believe. Child development is another common term that misleads by presuming that adults are more responsible than children for their development. Bear with me on both.
Six terms are defined at length. All six interwork in background mode as an every-moment process of life. They provide a common sense model of how children develop under their own initiative, while also under the influence and choosing to accept or ignore the guidance, demands, expectations, and pressures of parents, teachers, and other authority figures. (Each title will later be described more fully.)
Self-esteem: How well a person likes himself as a person. Not as man or woman because it’s generated and permanently shaped before a child knows he’s a member of one rather than other gender. It is hardwired into the psyche by caregiver treatment prior to a child’s conscious mind opening in their third year.
Self-development: The process by which every person seeks to create and shape a life for himself in the world he inherits at birth. A child becomes aware he is a person too soon after his conscious mind opens in the third year of life. After his self-development begins later in that third year, the child becomes judge and jury of his treatment by those around him and his personal accomplishments and failures. All contribute to the formation and development of self-image.
Self-image: The imagined picture a person has of who and what they are as they perceive it in the world of their existence. The picture accumulates from experience and resides in the psyche to governs one’s behavior. We all tend to operate strictly within our own picture. When we deviate accidentally, we fix it if we can, alibi it away, or rationalize humiliation. If we deviate purposely, conscience kicks in and we tend to dislike or even hate ourselves for it. Kids do it in micro and morph to macro.
Self-interest: Each person’s ambitions motivate him to act out his life in ways that benefit him. WADWMUFGAO, we all do what makes us feel good about ourselves. Consequently, self-interest promotes and expands self-development, self-image, and self-worth. (But not self-esteem which will be explained later).
Self-worth: How well a person appreciates himself as a man or herself as a woman. It’s the product of success or failure produced by self-image, self-interest, and self-development working together. The result is limited by the high and low end of self-esteem hardwired into the psyche by infant caregivers.
Self-likeability: How well the child consciously likes himself as a person as the result of his subconscious sense of self-worth as man or woman. He feels great about himself and seeks to celebrate. Or doesn’t feel even good about himself, which energizes him to take corrective action.
Those are the structural members of the child development model described in this series. We pass up the fetal phase for three reasons. 1) What the fetus absorbs genetically or neurologically may cause but not be an effect of subsequent behavior. 2) New science reveals that genes do not determine our personalities as much as emotions select specific genes for specific environments. 3) The scope of this series is post-natal and about human behavior.
RECAP: Self-esteem likes self as a person. Self-development is the process of living. Self-image determines can or can’t, will or won’t, should or shouldn’t. Self-interest is ambitions that generate initiatives. Self-worth appreciates self as male or female. Self-likeability is self-worth on steroids and stimulant of new and perhaps bolder actions.
Infant care is the subject of tomorrow’s post.