What if everyone was born with a lifetime supply of the skills required for successful living? What would those skills be?
Probably not balancing a checkbook or cooking a pot roast, though those are certainly valuable abilities to have.
Perhaps the most versatile assets we can possess are skills such as problem-solving, sound judgment, interpersonal skills, accountability, and a perception of one's own significance and capabilities: in other words, self-esteem. With a strong sense of awareness and confidence in ourselves, we are able to overcome obstacles and realize that we are capable of any success.
Though it would be nice if we were, humans are of course not born with a lifetime supply of self-esteem. Acquisition of self-esteem happens over time. We, as parents, can foster its development in our children in the ways we interact with them.
When they are little, our reactions to their inevitable successes are natural and effortless. We encourage them when they complete "big kid" tasks. We cheer, "Yay! Wow! You did it!" We dole out thousands of hugs, smiles, and even the ever-so-generic "Good job!" For this, our toddlers feel grown up, proud, and happy with themselves.
As our children grow, encouraging the development of their self-esteem becomes a little more involved than smiles, cheers, and pats on the back. What else can we do to help our growing children realize their potential?
Upcoming in this series, we'll delve into 5 components of giving guidance to our children that preserves their self-esteem:
- Stop labeling
- Let them make mistakes
- Listen for understanding
- Offer neither punishments nor rewards
- Stay connected.
Kelly Bartlett is a certified positive discipline educator.