Building Self-Esteem In Your Children

Building Self-Esteem In Your Children
By: Lanette Kinsey

Every parent wants the best for his or her child. Many parents feel that their child must have the best of everything in order to build his self-esteem. Sometimes, they will enroll the child in an exclusive private school, putting him on a list at birth. Then, once he or she is old enough, they rush the child from one activity to another – baseball, karate, piano, band, dance, all in the hope of finding something the child can do well so that his self-esteem will not suffer.

Psychologists agree that the parental role is extremely important in shaping the child’s sense of self and future well-being. But being able to provide the best of everything materially is not a factor in this process. We have all seen the headlines when children of affluent parents commit suicide. The litany is always the same, “She had everything beauty, wealth, and fame. So why?”

The more likely picture in our society these days, however, is of a two-parent family where both parents have to work in order to make ends meet. They are stretched for time and finances and often don’t feel they have any extra resources for their child. Or, it may be a single- parent home, where even feeding the children is a daily struggle. Maybe the picture is of a welfare home where Mom has hit bottom and there’s no place left to go.

The headlines are full of juvenile crime, with children as young as nine or ten committing murder. Sometimes these kids are from seemingly “normal” homes. Drug addiction, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, and abortion are rampant in our society. What is the missing ingredient? A strong, spiritual foundation in a Bible-based church. Children are influenced every day by the press, Hollywood, and those they associate with. By teaching our children Christian values early in life we can provide a center of gravity that will always pull them back to basic principles.

The good news is that your station in life does not matter. The steps for building self- esteem in your child are the same whether you are rich or poor.

1. Provide a strong spiritual base in your home. Every kid knows that a parent who does not practice what he preaches is a hypocrite. “Do what I say and not what I do” is a formula that will not work for today’s young people. You cannot just send your child to church and expect him to absorb the values that he needs to stay balanced in this world. The most important center of learning is the home. It is there that he will learn the values that you think are really important. Abraham Lincoln said that for a man to train up a child in the way he or she should go, he must walk that way himself. Only the Holy Spirit dwelling within can fully enable you to walk in the ways of the Lord as an example for your children.

2. Set boundaries for your children. Dr. James Dobson reported the findings of an interesting study done on school children recently. A group of educators decided to remove the chainlike fences from around the school playgrounds. They believed the fences promoted feelings of confinement and restraint. The curious thing they noticed, however, was that as soon as the fences were removed, the children huddled in the center of the playground to play. Conclusion: Children need boundaries. A child who does not know where the boundaries of behavior are in the home is often confused and unhappy. By setting rules, you let him know that you love him and that you are in charge.

3. Show your child that you value his company and opinions. Dr. Joseph Bobbit, child psychologist, states that, according to recent studies, the child who has the lowest self-esteem is the one who isn’t permitted to say anything at the dinner table. The one with the next lowest image of himself is the child who is allowed to dominate the conversation. Highest on the list is the youngster whose parents tell him, “Yes, you may speak up when it is your turn.” These parents are setting boundaries and listening to their child.

4. Expect the best of and for your child. The words you speak to your children make a difference. They need to hear that they are loved and accepted. Praise them for the good things they do and encourage them in their failures. Don’t try to push them beyond their limitations, but let them know that you expect them to be the best they can be.