Unqualified-ly telling children that they are great, wonderful, and special might boost self-esteem, but it can also boost self-entitlement. Millennials and the most recent generations are often described as the most entitled generations and that is undoubtedly connected to the self-esteem movement of the past 20+ years. Everyone feels that they inherently deserve success, wealth, and fame no matter how lazy, irresponsible, or mediocre they are. And once youth leave the insulated world of education and enter the “real world,” and that success, wealth, and fame doesn’t fall into their laps, depression results.
True self-esteem comes from accomplishment: doing good, excelling, learning new skills, perfecting a craft, overcoming a challenge. Other kinds of accomplishment include: sticking to your values, standing up for what’s right, etc. Allah tells us in the Quran: “You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah.” This is where we can achieve a great deal of self-esteem, by tying our sense of self-worth to our ability to enjoin right, forbid wrong, and maintain iman.