“Building Self-Esteem in Your Kids”
Self-Esteem (SE) is your child’s internal barometer as to how they see themselves. It is the core value or worth they place upon themselves. SE is the primary resource affecting the degree of happiness or unhappiness, success or failure your child will experience in the world.
Our children’s SE begins at infancy and by the time our children are 5 years old they have already learned about 75% of what they will use for the rest of their lives, and the foundation of their SE is beginning to harden.
There are 3 main factors that affect the SE in our children. These factors can cause our children to flourish or wither.
1. The amount of love, respect and open affection the parents have towards each other:
This is truly the greatest gift a parent can give a child. The parents must truly be in love. My experience and research has clearly demonstrated that our children are not as much interested in expensive gifts, cars, jewelry, clothes, money, or trips to Europe. Our children’s soul simply wants to bear witness to parents that love each other.
2. Name Calling – Put-Downs – Sarcasm – Ridicule – Belittling & Mocking:
These are the negative messages or labels frequently repeated towards the child by the parents or other important people. It has been said that Albert Einstein was a genius, however I believe the true genius was his mother. Why? Because throughout his childhood she constantly told him he was a genius. He believed her and eventually it became so, via the power of the self-fulfilling prophesy.
I am amazed and distraught at the horrible amount of put-downs, badgering and name calling I’ve witnessed parents plague upon their children. Negative messages such as: “You’re so stupid!” “You’ll never amount to anything!” “You’re a loser!” “I hate you!” “You disgust me!” “You’re ugly,” and so on; leave a child’s SE torn and unable to repair without major therapy. It is very rare that a child who is consistently bombarded with these criticisms will ever truly love themselves nor find themselves worthy enough to be loved by another. Instead they’ll spend the rest of their lives trying to live up to their parents negative expectations. However, it is critical to remember that the parent who verbalizes this type of negative terminology towards their child, also has a severely damaged SE.
3. Insufficient Praise:
Praising your children and constantly “catching them in the act of doing something good” can best be compared to the proper watering of a flower. The ideal time to praise your child is in public. Public praise is the most powerful type of all. However, you must make sure that the praise is well deserved and sincere. Mis-placed or mis-delivered praise can back-fire very quickly causing future praise to lose its effectiveness.
Research into the psychology of child behavior states that there are -6- characteristics of children with low SE.
1. Anger & Rage Issues.
2. Smoking, Drug or Alcohol Abuse.
3. Vulnerability to Peer Pressure.
4. Eating Disorders
5. Strained, Unhappy or Hostile Relationships.
Research into the psychology of child behavior states that there are -6- characteristics of children with very high SE.
1. Resistance to Dependencies & Addictions.
2. Trust in Oneself.
3. Ability to be Self-Directed.
4. Ability to Cope with Adversity.
5. Stronger, Healthier, Peaceful Relationships.
6. Basically Happy.
Combining my research into the field of SE with my own experience of raising two happy and respectful children; my wife and I constantly put into practice what I call, “The Top 10 Steps to a Healthy Self- Esteem.” I teach this information in all of my parenting seminars and it is always well received. I hope you also find it beneficial.
1. Never fight if your children are present!
2. Say, “I love you,” with a touch or a hug!
3. Say, “We’re proud of you,” with a touch or a hug!
4. Ask many times, “Aren’t you proud of yourself?”
5. Never criticize in public.
6. Criticize only their behaviors—never them as a person!
7. Always praise in public. Make sure it’s sincere, well-deserved and timely!
8. Constantly catch them in the act of doing something good!
9. Be consistent with what you say and do!
10. Keep the refrigerator full. A well stocked refrigerator always creates a feeling of safety and comfort for children!
Remember your child will never rise higher than their SE allows. As parents we have a tremendous amount of power and obligation to help them reach their full potential and beyond. Our children are a reflection of who we are and our own works of art. Let’s teach them that they are masterpieces.