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Tuesday, 12 November, 2002, 12:00 GMT
Assessing children's self-esteem
child writing
The tests identify those who suffer from low self-esteem
Children as young as three could be tested by their teachers and parents to see how high or low their self-esteem is.

Self-esteem can be one of the key factors in determining how successful a child will be at school and in later life.


Children with low self-esteem suffer in ways in which we have only just begun to understand

Elizabeth Morris, author of the manuals
Now education specialist nferNelson has devised special assessments for pre-school, primary and secondary pupils which, it claims, can identify those young people at risk of falling behind.

It says its "indicators" probe a pupil's sense of self, belonging and personal power and pinpoint the areas in need of development.

Educators - teachers, youth workers, Connexions staff - work through a series of questions for each individual.

For example: Do other children often choose this child to play with? or does this child have a group they go around with? Does this child like to look nice? or does this child take care to select the latest trends?

Building self-esteem

The manual then offers a series of activities designed to raise self-esteem.

At the pre-school age - three to five years - a series of games is encouraged.

This may see a child repeating a positive phrase about him or herself: "I am Polly and I am pretty."

Other children in the group may then be asked to chant the phrase back to the child: "You are Polly and you are pretty".

At primary school age, the use of worksheets and circle time are used to build up a child's sense of self and at secondary age, special workshops can be used, touching on issues such as anger management and assertiveness training.

The author of the manuals, psychologist Elizabeth Morris, is now working on a series of booklets, specially designed for parents, that can be used at home.

Changeable factor

"Self-esteem can be influenced by many things, including a child's gender, socio-economic status, appearance and peer acceptance," said Ms Morris.

"This suggests that self-esteem is changeable, for the better or worse.

"Teachers can therefore make a real difference by putting solid foundations in place.

"There is no doubt that children with low self-esteem suffer in ways in which we have only just begun to understand," said Ms Morris.

The indicator tests have been tried in 15 to 20 schools in England.

See also:

30 Jul 02 | Education
26 Apr 02 | Education
29 Nov 00 | Scotland
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