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Parenting Guide Sheets
9. Building Self Esteem (2)

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Page 9B
b) Negative Traits
It is quite possible that you will see traits in your child that you consider negative. We will cover this elsewhere under behaviour, but for the moment we want to consider what you may see as negative behaviour and view it in a different light to see if we can find positive aspects to it:
Illustration 1: Your child wants more attention and keeps on interrupting what you are doing. You feel negative. Find things they can do that help you (obviously dependent on age and ability).
Opportunity 1: See it positively as a time for relational building AND them learning to do things in the home.
Illustration 2: Your child demands to make their own decisions. “I want to do this!” You feel negative.
Opportunity 2: Work on giving them opportunities to make decisions in a good context, so they can learn to become responsible in the way they think through choices.
Illustration 3: Your child is upset because certain aspects of family life seem unfair to them. You feel negative about the situation and about how they feel. To make this positive, talk about what is happening, talk about how sometimes life is difficult and doesn't seem fair. See if it is possible to bring an element of fairness into how your child sees it. Teens especially are working out values and so often declare that life is unfair. Talk with them about how they can bring fairness into life.
Opportunity 3: This an opportunity to work out values together and show you care and can listen.
Illustration 4: You child is not good at handling failure and so after the first try they give up. This is probably simple immaturity and if it is a physical thing, when they declare, “I can't do this!” encourage them to persevere. If this failure blights the way they feel about themselves, point out the good things they are already good at. Help them by small things (NOT doing it all for them) to work at things, small step by small step.
Opportunity 4: Here is your opportunity to build self-confidence.
In each of these situations if you are willing to talk, spend time and do things with your child, you will be conveying an sense that they are important and that will build their self-esteem as well as help them through with a particular area of learning.

3. Beware going 'over the top' with Self-Esteem
Previously we said that one of the ways we want to help our children is to help them “Learn to understand and respect themselves - teaching them self-esteem with humility”
At the beginning of these three ’Esteem’ pages we declared, ‘The purpose of this page is to consider self esteem, why it is sometimes low and how to establish a reasonable but not excessive level of self esteem in your child' because, we added, ‘parents have sometimes gone over the top and have ended up with thoroughly obnoxious and unpleasant children.'
Building self-esteem without understanding can have very negative results. Articles in the press from time to time give warnings about some of the adverse effects of poor parenting control.
The Times of November 28th 2001 in an article about Self-Esteem, referred to the work of Professor Nicholas Emler, a social psychologist at the London School of Economics, and commented, “we should be striving to imbue them (our children) with an accurate sense of self.”
The article went on:
“If you never criticise your children, if you don't set them standards and judge whether they have met them, if you always side with them against their teacher, they may grow up with precisely that sense of invulnerability that can lead youth to drive when they are drunk, or break the law in the belief that they will never be caught… if your praise bears some objective relation to the quality of their work or their behaviour, then children know that your compliments are sincere. And they will learn to judge for themselves so that in later life their sense of self will be one that tallies with reality, instead of conflicting with it.”
Another article of May 11th 2006 from the Times started out:
“SCHOOL playgrounds are being terrorised by spoilt, middle-class bullies who are so indulged at home that they believe they are demi-gods.” It later stated, “They are spoilt and feel that the world basically owes them, and that other children should be as in awe of them as their families.”
This is a symptom of parents who don't build “self-esteem with humility” but instead believe, by giving their child everything that will build self-esteem and that is all that is necessary for success. It isn't.
This is where ‘Building Self-Esteem through Respect', is so important.
Respect for others, as well as for self, is a vital part of building balanced self-esteem.

4. Recap & Overview
Now you have read through the ‘Esteem’ pages, it might be helpful to get an overview of all that we have covered:
Page 7
1. What is Self-Esteem and Why is it Important?
•  We saw three examples illustrating how important self-esteem is.
2. Signs of Low Self-Esteem
•  We saw the whole range of things that show up when there is low self-esteem, things that clearly show us that we want to build our children's self-esteem.
Page 8A,B & C
1. Building Self-Esteem through Respect
•  We saw why respect was important and how we can build it in our children.
2. Building Self-Esteem by Encouragement
•  We saw what encouragement is, why it is important and how it differs from praise and respect.
3. Building Self-Esteem by Assisting Learning
•  We saw that learning is an integral part of a healthy, fulfilled life, and therefore, how we can help our children to learn and what that does for them.
Page 9A & B
1. Building Self-Esteem by Simply Loving
•  At the end of the day, ‘love makes the world go round' but love is an active thing we need to work at.
2. Building Self-Esteem by turning Negatives into Positives
•  We saw how even things going wrong can be turned to good to build our children.
3. Beware Going over the top with self-esteem
•  Finally, to keep balance, we noted how self-esteem without humility produces spoilt brats who are difficult to be with and who cause social upset.
Remember, at the beginning, we said that a healthy self-esteem is one of the basic building blocks for our children's future and so the way we think about this (or ignore it) will determine very much what sort of future we have ahead of us!
There was a lot here, but if you can take hold of it, it will pay off invaluable dividends.

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