Self-Esteem Is The Key To A Happy, Successful Life. Here’s What To Do And What To Avoid If You Want To Help Your Children Develop It

When you were a kid, did you ever have the thought that you couldn’t do something because you weren’t smart enough, attractive enough, or capable enough?

Maybe you didn’t try out for a sport because you were worried you wouldn’t get picked.

Or you didn’t ask someone out to a school dance because you didn’t think they’d say yes.

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Or you avoided signing up for an honors class because you didn’t see yourself as a “brainy” type, even though you liked the subject matter.

Even now, as adults, feelings of inadequacy play a huge role in the kind of work we choose to do, the partners and relationships we tolerate, and how fulfilled we feel in our lives.

Adults who have high self esteem take focus off themselves and more onto others, which is so important in today’s world.

In a nutshell, feelings of high or low self-worth have a huge effect on how your life turns out and how it affects others.

As a parent, you have a direct influence on how your children feel about themselves and their worth, and how their lives will turn out, too.

In this article, you’ll not only discover things that will help your child build self-esteem and self-worth, but will help you discover things about your own life that will make a profound difference for you.

Self-Esteem Doesn’t Come From What You Do, It Comes From How You Feel About Yourself

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is how one esteems oneself. It’s what one thinks about oneself. We either experience ourselves as okay or not okay. Let me give you an example.

I was at a friend’s house once and her teenage daughter came in and started talking about how a classmate was having a party, and she just knew she wasn’t going to get invited. She also mentioned how she had just tried out for the softball team at school but didn’t think she was going to make it because she wasn’t good enough.

As I listened to her speak, her expectations were always that she wasn’t going to get what she wanted, and she had very low expectations of herself.

Strong self-esteem is based on two main convictions: I am worthwhile and I can handle myself with complete confidence.

Most of us think self-esteem comes from outside, like getting that party invitation, or getting selected for a team, or landing a job. It doesn’t. It comes from how you feel about yourself. It’s the conviction that one is competent to live and worthy of living, no matter the external accoutrements.

Take certain celebrities, for example. They can be wealthy, attractive, talented, and accomplished in their profession, and yet still have low self-esteem, which sometimes leads to drug and alcohol use, depression—or worse.

Being told you’re beautiful, smart, or talented doesn’t give you self-esteem if you don’t feel worthy. You’ll brush compliments off as someone just “being nice,” the compliment will ring as untrue or you’ll just need the next one (the next “hit”) like a heroin addiction.

Self-esteem doesn’t come from what you own, or what you achieve, or how you look. However, if you don’t have high self-esteem, it prevents you from pursuing the kind of life you want.

In summary, having self-esteem doesn’t guarantee any specific results in life, but NOT having it can greatly limit the possibilities.

As adults, many of us may feel that we lack the self-esteem we’d like to have in order to be more confident in life. Maybe our parents criticized us, or maybe we heard disparaging things that we internalized about ourselves, such as that we’re stupid, ugly, or lazy.

As parents, we want to do better with our children. We want to build up their self-esteem. But are we doing it the right way?

Find Out

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Building Self-Esteem In Your Children

When your child comes home with a “D” on their report card, do you yell at them or punish them? What if they come home with all “A’s”? What do you say then?

If your child plays a sport and doesn’t score any goals or points in a game, do you get upset? What do you tell them if they score the winning point?

If you have low-self esteem, you probably believe that what makes you good enough are your accomplishments. Your children, then, become your accomplishments. As a result, you feel not good enough when THEY don’t do well. Otherwise, why would you get upset when your child doesn’t get an “A” on her test? Why would a parent get angry when a child doesn’t score a goal at a sports event?

One of the most common misconceptions about self-esteem is that in order to raise our children to feel good about themselves, we have to praise them when they achieve something, and express our disappointment or anger when they don’t.

Building kids up with indiscriminate praise is NOT the way to build self-esteem. Saying, “Good job! That was great!” all the time doesn’t build self-esteem. After a while, your child will get used to it and dismiss it as just something mom or dad says. If achievement is all they get praised for, they’ll conclude they HAVE to achieve in order to be good enough.

Obviously, it’s better than criticism, and it’s not inherently bad to do that, but you’re not building self-esteem.

Children and adults can feel good about themselves based on accomplishments, but that’s a type of addiction. Life can’t ever be fully enjoyed if you’re always relying on accomplishing something in order to feel good about yourself. Therefore, avoid giving attention and affection to your children only when they accomplish something.

There are other “don’ts” in terms of helping children develop high self-esteem. In a 1967 study by Stanley Coopersmith, he found children with low self-esteem usually had parents who:

  • withheld affection
  • had a need to dominate (telling kids things like, “Do it or else!” or “Because I said so!”)
  • showed little appreciation of good behavior
  • had an inability to establish clear rules
  • used severe forms of punishment on their children

Children with high self-esteem had parents who:

  • reinforced good behavior
  • didn’t rely on harsh measures

All this means, is that if you want to build self-esteem in your child, you must avoid tying accomplishments to affection and attention, and you must avoid punishing your child when they don’t perform well.

Instead, acknowledge their good behavior and their efforts, but demonstrate affection and attention when they’re just being themselves, or when they’re doing nothing at all.

You want your child to form positive self-beliefs based on just being, not based on doing.

Now that you know what to do and what NOT to do, let me tell you why it’s important, and show you HOW to do it.

The Consequence Of Having Low-Self Esteem And How You Can Help Your Children Feel Good About Themselves Today, And For The Rest Of Their Lives

Children who grow up with low self-esteem are much more likely to have addictions later in life, as well as other dire outcomes, such as:

  • staying in jobs they hate
  • staying in abusive relationships
  • not asking for what they want because they feel undeserving
  • promiscuity

I’m not telling you all this to scare you. That’s not my intention. But if it scares you enough to change the way you parent, I’m willing to take that consequence.

That’s because raising children to have positive beliefs about themselves is the single most important job we have as parents. Children with high self-esteem grow up to be compassionate, capable, confident adults who become great parents.

Children with high self-esteem become adults who are less likely to be violent, less likely to be criminals, less likely to take drugs, and less likely to believe they’re victims of circumstance. It makes for a happier and safer society.

My audio plus workbook program, Parenting That Empowers: How To Ensure Your Child Becomes A Happy, Confident, Capable Adult, shows you exactly how to help your child develop positive self-regard in order to become a happier and more confident adult.

Through anecdotes, stories, sample dialogue, and self-reflection exercises, you’ll learn how to help your child feel worthy, valued, lovable, and capable.

You’ll learn why it’s important to get to the source of your child’s problem, whether it’s not doing well in school, not liking a babysitter, not wanting to do homework, or many other specific situations. That way, you’re not so focused on the outcome, but more interested on your child’s experience.

In Module 7 of the program, you’ll also learn how to help your older child or adult handle rejection or other insults to their sense of self through a process of “reframing” beliefs about what happened.

This is something you can benefit from just as much as your child.

It’s all here, risk-free:

Build High Self-Esteem

It’s never too late to be a better parent, and it’s never too late to change your own beliefs about yourself, either.

My program will help you do both. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.


Shelly Lefkoe

P.S. What increases the chances that a teenager rebels, goes crazy when they go away to college (with booze and promiscuity or drugs), or feels depressed?

How they feel about themselves. As a parent, you have the greatest influence on your child with regard to positive outcomes based on their feelings of self-worth. My program, Parenting That Empowers, is all about how to give your child that advantage in life:

Start Listening Now

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