Are We Building Self-Esteem or Telling Them They’re Stupid?
“These days, parents are overly concerned with their child’s self-esteem. ‘I want Johnny to feel good about himself,’ a mother says. So what does a mother do? She goes out of her way to clear life’s roads for her child, to do for him that he should be doing for himself. She thinks she’s helping him with his self-esteem, but what she is really doing? She’s sending a negative message: ‘I think you are so stupid that you can’t do it yourself, so I’ll do it.” – Dr. Lehman, Have a New Kid by Friday
My daughter INSISTS on doing things herself. “Let me do it!” “Let me try!” “My turn!” She cries. So, I let her try to squeeze toothpaste on the toothbrush by herself. Now, there’s a big blob of wasted toothpaste that falls off the brush and into the sink. Times like this, sometimes make me feel like taking full control and brush her teeth myself. Everything will go over quicker and neater. But, after reading what Dr. Lehman has to say in the article “Building Self-Esteem in Your Kids,” I have to remember to let her learn hands on.
According to Dr. Leman, the ABC’s of building a healthy self-esteem in kids involves ACCEPTANCE, BELONGING, AND COMPETENCE.
ACCEPTANCE. Build unconditional acceptance with your kids. Show interest in the activities they enjoy. Kids who don’t feel accepted by their parents will look for acceptance from peer groups.
BELONGING. Create a sense of community in your home where even kids can have a vote on some family decisions. By feeling like they are part of a team, knowing what the team does or does not do, kids can make better decisions outside of the family.
COMPETENCE. Don’t do for your kids what they can do for themselves. Children learn by experiencing life first hand, even if they make a mistake. They build confidence as they successfully repeat an effort to accomplish something.
The goal is to guide our children without over-controlling. This is how they mature and develop a healthy self-esteem. So, as I guide my daughter in squeezing the right amount of toothpaste, I shall resist feeling a little frustrated. I’ll just buy more toothpaste…