Self-esteem is about whether you like your-self and is the basis of our emotional health and well-being. It is also about being competent, solution - focused, optimistic and playful and helps us make relationships with others. Adults and children with low self-esteem frequently give up trying or else set themselves such high standards that they never achieve the perfection that they aspire to.
John Bowlby developed a concept of an ‘Internal Working Model’ in the 1950's, which he saw as a representational model of self and their attachment figures, depending on how they were treated. For example, if a child is regularly rejected by his mother, he cannot blame her - she is his mother and his primary attachment figure, so he sees ‘himself’ as unlovable and worthy of being rejected. He is anxious and unhappy and the way he behaves makes it all the more difficult for him to be loved. So his internal working model of self and of mother is dysfunctional.
However, if he feels secure and loved, he constructs himself as loveable and likeable and his mother as a warm accessible person who will protect him and look after him when he is anxious and frightened. He can therefore make good relationships and explore his environment because he knows that this model of mother will be available when he needs her.