PARENTS MUST CAREFULLY FOSTER SELF-ESTEEM IN KIDS
QUESTION: I often hear about the importance of boosting a child’s self-esteem. But how can I accomplish that with my son without making him self-absorbed or self-centered?
JIM: Instilling a sense of self-esteem in children is a critical task for parents. And you’re right — there’s a big difference between healthy self-esteem and destructive selfishness. Like you, many moms and dads find themselves asking how to find the right balance.
Dr. Kevin Leman, a frequent Focus on the Family broadcast guest, suggests that parents can cultivate healthy self-esteem in their kids by learning “the A-B-Cs.”
The letter A stands for acceptance. We might not always approve of our children’s choices or behavior, but we always need to let them know that we love and accept them unconditionally. In other words, you can tell your son that playing video games for six hours a day is unacceptable. But don’t give him the impression that he is therefore unacceptable.
The letter B stands for belonging. We can give our kids a sense of belonging by creating a sense of community within the family. It’s important that we give our sons and daughters a voice in family decisions when appropriate, that we listen to what they have to say, and that we support them in their activities.
Finally, the letter C stands for competence. We can give our children the gift of competence by allowing them to experience life firsthand. This means we need to avoid being overprotective. And we should fight the urge to do for our kids what they can do for themselves. Even when they make mistakes, they’ll be gaining life experience that will boost their sense of self-worth in the long run.
Acceptance, belonging and confidence … if we can instill these A-B-Cs in our kids’ hearts and minds, we’ll be setting them on the road to healthy self-esteem.
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family, host of the Focus on the Family radio program, and a husband and father of two.
Submit your questions to: ask@FocusOnTheFamily.com
Copyright 2011 Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO 80995