Want to Build Lasting Self-Esteem in Your Children?

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In our effort to preserve and not damage the self-esteem of our children, we have somehow gotten off track. The only way our children will ever have true self-esteem is if we give them abilities to be proud of!

After graduating from college I was excited to begin my first teaching job teaching fourth grade. Like most new teachers I was highly motivated and had many ideas about how to further the education of my students. Recesses I found myself inside the classroom with many students wanting to play math drill games on their own time. Some of the students asked if we could have a spelling bee and I quickly agreed. Our plans were soon halted by the principal who said that he had learned that spelling bees damage the self-esteem of children.

Fast forward a few years. As I was sitting down with my four year old son helping him to play a new very popular electronic toy, I noticed that every time he pushed the wrong button the words, “nice try”, or “try again” would sound. I remember playing with electronic toys when I was a child and hearing the words “wrong” or “incorrect”.

There is a movement today that even wants to do away with the traditional grading system. They suggest that we use a system where grades reflect: true ability, growth, and effort (trying). I am sorry, but in the real working world, success does not come from effort, but results.

In our effort to preserve and not damage the self-esteem of our children, we have somehow gotten off track. The only way our children will ever have true self-esteem is if we give them abilities to be proud of! While in college I remember observing a class of 4th graders and seeing two little girls dressed in the most beautiful dresses. I mentioned to one of my co-workers how beautiful the dresses were and she told me something that just amazed me. She told me that those two little girls made their own dresses! She said that their mother was an excellent seamstress and that since they were little she had taught them to sew. Now when they want a new dress, she takes them to the fabric store and lets them pick out the fabric and lets them make the dresses! Do you think those two little nine year old girls have self-esteem? I do.

In order for our children to have true self-esteem we need to teach them abilities and skills that will build their confidence and character. It’s the WOW factor. It’s when someone looks at your five year old and says, “Wow, you can do that?!”

Live near a lake? Teach your child to fish. Live near the woods? Teach your child to hunt. Live near the sea or a river? Teach your child to kayak or sail. Too expensive? How about a little vegetable garden in the backyard? Live in an apartment and can’t make a garden? How about teaching them to make spaghetti from scratch! What our children need is us. They need us to spend time with them and to teach them skills. Don’t leave it to the schools and electronic toys. It is your job as the parent.

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Nicole Munoz