Poverty effects on childs self esteem

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A child's self esteem is very important in determining the future of the child. A child must grow with a positive self esteem. Self esteem is affected by poverty. Poverty affects the socio-economic welfare of the family which in turn affects the child. This usually happens when the parents of the poor child are not able to afford what other children are getting form their parents including better education, medical cover, social facilities among others. The poor child who suffers from low self-esteem is not able to compete with the rest because he is psychologically affected. The effects of low self esteem could go on even up to adulthood. This article examines the impacts of poverty on a child's self esteem.

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Background
  3. Problem statement
  4. Significance of the study
  5. Literature review
  6. a) Theoretical literature review

    b) Empirical literature review

  7. Methodology
  8. Discussion and findings
  9. Recommendations
  10. Conclusion

1.0 Introduction

Self esteem is the key driving factor in a child's achievement in life. For a child to succeed he must have a positive sense of self esteem. A child with low self esteem is always out competed by the rest of the children with positive self esteem.  Self esteem can make one either to do well or poorly in every day activities.

On the other hand, poverty is the lack of finances to meet the daily financial commitments. A poor person, according to the United Nations is a person who lives below a $1 per day. Poverty affects a person's ability to cater and provide the daily basic needs. Children borne out of poor families are characterized with low self esteem. This is because the parents are not in a position to provide for them the daily basic needs as the other children from the well off families.

When at school, these children are teased on their social-economic welfare lowering further their sense of self-esteem. When such children grow up with such low self esteem, they do not compete well because they were poorly prepared for the future due poor background. This research paper investigates the effect of poverty on the self esteem of the children.

2.0 Background

Poverty is the lack of well-being by the people. It is the inability of people to purchase basic necessities of life. This includes food, shelter, education and clothing. Absolute poverty is a type of poverty associated with the lack of financial capability to afford basic necessities of life. It usually occurs when a person spends less than $1 in a day. This type is also known as financial poverty. This kind of poverty can be alleviated by encouraging the people to develop small, medium or large businesses. The4 businesses should make use of natural resources for them to be effective. The other type of poverty is the poverty that is not associated with income. Also called the non- income poverty. This is where the people may have some money but in general, their life standards are below the society's expectations i.e. they may not be in a position to afford basic education, health care etc. this type of poverty can be alleviated through increased access to affordable social services. The social services should also be qualitative in addition typo to being affordable. In general, poor people often live below the standards of the society.

Poverty is most prevalent in the unemployed, the youth, children, mothers, and the aged. Children borne out of poverty must struggle to reach the level of their counterparts from well off families. They struggle through their adulthood trying to make ends meet. Poverty is a social problem because the children borne in poor families are not given a fair opportunity to compete with the rest. There have been various measures of poverty that have been and are still in use although new measures of poverty are being advocated. The UNDP developed the human development index in 1990 to measure the level of poverty. This measures poverty based on the income. Globally, a measure that is used to measure poverty is the one developed and regularly updated by the World Bank; the $1per day. This measure is widely used although it doesn't show the real human wellbeing. That is why better methods that can capture the well being of humans are being advocated.

Self-esteem: self esteem can be either high medium or low. According to Baumeister, smart & Boden 1996), extremely high self esteem indicate destructiveness and narcissism. Some people may have false sense of high esteem whereby the feel they have high self esteem yet they have very low self esteem. A person with low self esteem lacks self awareness and may be defensive. (Hoyle, Kernis, Leary & Baldwin 1991). Low self esteem is associated with depression. There is a strong relationship between suicide and low sense of self esteem. According to Guindon H. (2010), a person with a high sense of self esteem is more likely to be self directed and independent than low esteem individuals.

Problem statement

the way children perceive things is very important. This is because it is a vital component in developing their self esteem. In addition to that, self esteem is a key aspect in the learning process of a child. Through it, a child can view things either positively or negatively. On the other hand, low self esteem in children can be blamed on poverty. As children grow up, they may face low self esteem problems especially during their puberty. Self esteem varies with from one child top another (Williams, 2007). According to sociological researchers, there are two types of poverty namely: situational poverty where a family can plunge into poverty due to some negative aspects of change like loss of a job or problems of a disease and generational poverty which when it strike a family it is difficult to deal with and a child may suffer even up to old age. Children are affected differently by the two type of poverty (Dana, 2003).
A child born in a family that has generational poverty grows in the knowledge that the situation the family is in is determined by fate and the situation is beyond control. A child born in a family with generational poverty always feel inferior compared to his/her peers and usually suffer from low self esteem. However, low self esteem disappears and the child grows confidence if the situation disappears.

3.0 Research questions

This research seeks to investigate the relationship between poverty and the self esteem of children; whether the relationship is direct on inverse. It undertakes to answer the following research questions:

  • Does poverty have and impact on the self esteem of children?
  • Is the relationship between poverty and self esteem a direct or an inverse relationship?
  • Does low self-esteem progress in to adult life in a poverty stricken family?

4.0 Significance of the study

literature on the effects of poverty on psychological development of a child triggered the research into this topic on the effects of poverty on a child's self esteem. The former studies were not clear and specific on the effects of poverty on the self esteem of a child (Sandra and Josefina, 2002). This later became reality and a challenge. The observation of children across different family backgrounds drew the interests of different researchers. They started working on it and in the preliminary observations, the self esteem in children decreased as the level of poverty increased among children but not absolutely. This means that some children had high self esteem though they were from poor backgrounds and vice versa. No observations were made on whether the low self esteem disappeared as the children grew albeit still being in poverty. This unanswered questions triggered the topic and these forms the main objective of this research. Through this study, we shall find out the relationship between poverty and self esteem in children. From the findings, researchers can come out with a better methodology of dealing with low self esteem in children from poverty stricken families.

5.0 Literature review

5.1 Theoretical literature review

This research will make use of different library material and electronic databases such as J-STOR and inform global database in compiling of the research. In addition the research will make use of books and peer reviewed journals to compile and complete the task. The use of government publication will be very instrumental to get the statistics and figures that are relevant to the topic.

According to Sandra, W. (2007), children can be affected by the family issues like lack of funds, peer pressure, stigma and family stresses. Children from poverty stricken families often do suffer from stresses from the family unlike their peers from other well off families. It is more humiliating to them when they are not in a position to pay the full amount required for school activities. Also affecting children's self esteem are factors like stigma attached to poverty stricken families, class divisions, humiliation from peers pointing out what they lack, low quality clothing compared to their peers etc. in addition to this, there are other factors like lack of access to some facilities like swimming pools, certain games like golf etc. all these factors can have a negative impact on the self esteem of the child which in turn negatively influences the child's education. Children always want to feel confident in their abilities. Contrary to this, their schoolwork and future life prospects will be highly affected negatively. Sandra, W. (2007), adds that for children to do well, they need role models that are positive, positive friend, families together wit h communities. This will make a difference on their self esteem.

Parents also have a role to play as far as self esteem is concerned. As much as they should praise the children for a job well done, they should watch out not to overdo it because it will backfire. Very high expectations to children pressure them so much that they make mistakes avoiding challenges. Too much criticism also damages self esteem. Therefore, parents must strike a balance. A child can overcome financial as well as emotional if all the players, teachers, aunts, parents and peer can be of positive influence to them (Sandra, W. 2007).

Rani, (2006) studies the impact of single poor mothers on their children in India and He notes that the impacts are wide, varied and complex. Many single women in India, though they do not have any formal employment, they head their households providing everything that is needed. When the husband dies, these women assume every responsibility of the home. They work outside leaving the children alone at home. Since they are poor, they can not afford to hire a care taker to take care of the children. Their financial indigence can not allow them to provide mentorship for their children. They thus feel anxious about their children's future. The conditions are hard for both the mothers and the children. The mothers are hands tied to care for the children's basic needs. With the soaring economic conditions, they strain and cut down expenses. This leads to provision of poor quality services to these children.  They drop out of school. In pursuit for the basic needs, they end up assisting the mother in provision of basic necessities. The family's role as a socialization agent is weakened. The whole scenario is a total mess (Rani, I. 2006).

Mclahahan & Booth, (1989) argue that the socialization process is different in single parent families. That the attachment of children to parents, the expectations and values of parents and the ability of parents to influence their children's behavior are some of the factors that are vital in enhancing socialization within families. In addition to that, structural factors of whether a family is single parent or not matters. Single mothers are less influential regarding children's decisions than when they are two. Peer pressure is more intense in children from single mother families then others. Though some researchers say that school performance of children fro the two types of families differ, Rani, (2006) says that studies carried out show that children from two parent families out performed their counterparts form single parent mothers. This is explained by the low socio economic standards of the children from single mother families. In this connection, the children from poor families' educational performance are affected by the poor economic standards of their mothers (Mclanahan, 1985). More so, the school drop out rate was high for children from single mothers that those from two parents. Single mothers rarely monitor the social activities of their adolescents. This leads them to be susceptible to peer-pressure more than their counterparts resulting to other chain of bad social behavior. These children according to studies spend more time doing chores at home as compared to their counterparts from two parents.

According to wisegeek, (2010), poverty starts affecting children even before they are borne. This experienced when the mother s are poor and can not insured. Therefore they always don't get prenatal care early enough making them suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and other complications. This leads to developmental delays in their children growth, lagging behind their peers. As if hat is not enough, children from poverty stricken families usually experience many health complications like asthma (due to living in poorly ventilated house structures) and obesity (due to the inability of parents to afford a diet rich in proteins). Another problem of growing up in poverty is mental problems. This occurs to due to stresses that accompany poverty stricken families. These problems include; unemployment, divorce, death, drug abuse etc. Anxiety and depression feelings are the outcomes of such situations and they can last to adult hood. In addition to lack of quality time from working parents who strive to make ends meet, children from poor families spent much of their time in poor quality daycare centers. This could impact negatively on their emotional health (wisegeek, 2010).

Children form poor background often receive low quality education once in elementary school because they are involved in a lot of movements or they are forced to attend cheap schools that provide poor services. This will set up long term repercussions to the child. If he can't learn properly in elementary school he will be affected even in high school and college. The lack of a university degree will ruin the rest of the lifetime of the child as he will struggle a lot.

Teenagers form poor families are most likely to indulge in drug abuse, risky promiscuous behavior and alcohol. The indulgence in this will most likely spur chains of other unlawful activities all this happen at the expense of learning and preparation for future life which their counterparts from affluent families will be doing. This complicates their lives even further.

Solving generational poverty is a problem because it can affect two to three generations. A family suffering from generation poverty will be so frustrated; they even create myths surrounding their poverty situation thus forming a culture of poverty that limits their chances of breaking through and coming out successful. This may include indulging in unlawful acts like burglary. Due to poverty, children from families suffering from generational poverty grow up knowing that their present circumstances are fate determined in addition to factors that are beyond their control while those children fro m the middle and upper class are taught how to focus on the future and the potential to their lives (wisegeek, 2010).

5.2 Empirical literature review

Rosenburg & Owens (2001) provides an example of low esteem persons drawn from the examples and the surveys. They find that persons with low esteem are more sensitive to any experiences that threaten to damage their esteem. Criticism troubles them most causing them to react more emotionally to failure. In addition to that, they easily magnify events as negative and make non critical events as critical. These people experience low interpersonal success due to inadequate interpersonal confidence.

High self esteem people look for growth while their counterparts, the low esteem people usually protect the esteem not wanting to make mistakes. Low self esteemed people are more pessimistic, distressed emotionally, less happy and anxious. Low esteemed people are rigid, indecisive and inflexible.

Self esteem and happiness are interrelated. High self esteem fosters better physical health, good feelings, low depression, etc.

Abernathy T. Webster, and Vermeulen, M. (2010), using the Evans-Stoddart model, they examined the data on 1759 adolescents of age 12-19. They found out from the study that there is a relation ship between the income of families and the health and that the relationship is based on the social environment including the differences in lifestyles, access to healthcare and low sense of self esteem. The analysis entailed bivariate and multivariate which displayed the positive relationship between self esteem and mastery and physical exercises levels. Interpreting the findings, they found out that low physical activity experienced by children from poor families have impact negatively on their self esteem hence their health. To reduce the impact, policies and programs that reduce poverty and increase the physical activity o f such children should be established. These policies would not only boost the health of the children but will also increases the level of esteem that the child has. This will translate into improved academic performance fro the children and thus a brighter future (Abernathy, T. 2010).

In another survey carried out by Trzcinski, E. (2004), he studied school children in Middle Ages and assessed the effects of welfare on their daily activities and life. He undertook thirty interviews with children from metropolitan and large areas. He gathered the views of children as regarding the impact of multiple jobs on the child-parent relationship.  His outcome of the research was that the multiple jobs done by their parents during the night or in evening interfered with the child- parent relationship. He also found out that children who affected by these jobs went to school late and that the children while at school were always teased about their poverty and welfare issues. Trzcinski, E. (2004), noted that this affected the performance of the children at school because children from urban and poor families were poor and therefore their welfare was low. They could not afford many of the things that those children from the well-off families could.  He points out that this also affected the child's psychological well being (Trzcinski, E. 2004).

6.0 Methodology

This research paper makes use of secondary data obtained from secondary sources like the books, journal articles, and the internet.

7.0 Main findings and discussion

This research paper finds a major relation ship between the impacts of poverty on child's self-esteem. Poverty has significant effects to the children coming from poor backgrounds. According to Rani, (2006), many families that were single parents in India, they were poor. This was attributed to the inability of the mothers to posses various useful skill that would assist them get good employment. These mothers stayed out late fending for their children. The children on the other hand were lest on their on. This makes the families poor since the mother' income in is not enough to cater for the food, shelter and the clothing. The low social economic situation of the family affects the children psychologically. This is because; their parents can not afford the better education, better health, social services recreation among many other things. These children miss a lot. Their sense of self esteem is tampered with. They start seeing themselves in a different angle as less achievers. They can't think properly like their counterparts from well-off families. Socialization is hard because they are teased. As Trzcinski, E. 2004 found out, these children from poor back grounds are teased at school of their socio- economic welfare. This just serves to increase the pressure they have on their self esteem. They end up suffering from stress and depression. In, fact this explains the high school drop out rates among children from poor families.

The poor family conditions affect the children's performance at school. Their counterparts out perform them shining in every aspect. There many reasons to explain this. Just as Rani, (2006) pointed out, those children from single mother families are at double risks. They have no one to supervise their academic work as the mother is too busy. She leaves early and reports I back ate. They are on their own doing every chore at home and thus they have less time to study. They also walk to school. Due to the strained economic condition of the family, their parents can only afford a cheap school that offers low quality education. With no family socialization, these children grow into adulthood equipped with very little education and skills. Thus they will still lead poor lives just because they are less prepared to compete with the rest of the children who are well prepared for the future.

In addition to the above, poverty starts having its effects on the child prom a poor family from his birth. As Guindon H. (2010) points out, the parents of these children are poor therefore they can't afford health care insurance. They keep waiting for pre-natal care from cheap hospitals. Due to the low quality of the services, they give birth to children in poor environment growing up with many complications like asthma diabetes etc. these poor conditions affect them as they grow up because the parents are poor and can  not afford good nutritional diet to their children. The poor conditions that the child grows in affects his self esteem and instead of the child growing up fighting poverty, he accepts it, and starts to think that everything and every situation they undergo is fate driven this low self esteem if not fought hard, results in vicious cycle of poverty for an individual. He will be poor since borne to his death. And the poverty can surpass to the next generation.

8.0 Recommendations to take care low self esteemed individuals

The following are the recommendations made to lower the effect of poverty on the self esteem children from poor backgrounds:

Social support: the state should increase programs that provide social support to the individuals with low self esteem. According to Guindon H. (2010), people with strong social ties have high sense of self esteem. Therefore, to raise a person's self esteem, one needs to increase a sense of belonging.

Cognitive behavioral strategies: this helps reduce stress and depression as it increases the level of self esteem among schizophrenic patients. Tests carried out showed that techniques like relaxation, study skill and guided imagery help reduce anxiety and increase the level of self esteem in college students.

Individual, family or group strategies: one-on-one individual counseling increases self esteem thou, it should not be used on critical cases of low self esteem. Family therapy should address issues like ineffective parenting styles and poor family functioning. This may be useful in treating issues related to family dynamics (e.g. eating disorder). 

Physical fitness strategy: Exercises especially sports help increase self esteem. The effect of exercises is most felt in adolescents.

Other strategies like reality strategies, solution focused therapy, narrative therapy, play therapy and creative arts have also been used to increase self esteem. In school going children especially, child centered lay therapy is highly recommended to alleviate the problems of low self esteem. However, the therapist should first understand the source of the low self esteem. Through this strategy, parents and teachers are taught ways of dealing with such cases and how to improve the child's autonomy, responsibility and setting therapeutic limits.

The state should come up with programs to help reduce the long term effects of poverty on the development children. Nutrition programs like the women, infants and children (WIC) should be encouraged to because they help feed pregnant women and young children below the age of five with nutritious food. This includes offering of free pre-school to children from poor back grounds.

9.0 Conclusion

Poverty should be taken seriously. It is affecting many children from poor backgrounds. Such children have low self esteem which ends up messing up their entire future life. Poor children from poor backgrounds do not do well in school due to low self esteem. They also experience frequent cases of stress and depression. Majority of single mother families are poor. Frequencies of school dropouts are high in such poor families. Due to frustration, they succumb to peer-pressure hence indulging in drug abuse and promiscuity. If the low esteem goes on in the lives of these children as they grow up, they may end up being poor and frustrated.

The state should move fast to save and secure the future of these children through social programs that are helpful to them. Other non-governmental organizations should work hand in hand with the government in alleviating poverty and helping the poor families. Some of the programs that they should involve themselves with are nutrition programs, individual family strategies, physical fitness strategies, social support and cognitive behavioral strategies among many others. These will save the future generation.


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