The Teacher is Talking: Fall Series–Self-Esteem

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By Leslie Lindsay

Welcome to a NEW fall series on THE TEACHER IS TALKING!  This is an 8-week “workshop” covering a huge amount of social skills tips and ideas our kiddos may struggle with.  We’re starting with my personal favorite–SELF-ESTEEM because I believe it underlies all of the other skills we’ll be covering. 

Eight-year old Kate identified the word self-esteem, as “Self as teem.”  She probably had never seen it in print, only heard others pass the trendy term around, yet I was particularly struck by how she transferred the information. 

SELF AS TEAM.  Love that!!

It’s kind of like saying, responsibilty is your “ability to respond,” or history is “his story.” 

So you take this information and you think, “Yeah, I am sort of like a team that works together to create a whole, interesting, happy, proactive person.” 

As a parent, how do you teach this to your child?  Waves of recent researach are crashing into what we thought we previously knew:  parental/teacher praise will increase a child’s self-esteem.  Well, not so fast.   In fact, overpraising a child can increase a child’s feeling of entitlement; they may simply stop trying. 

There’s a fine line between telling your child, “You’re wonderful…you can do anything,” and giving them a healthy dose of confidence. 

Try instead, of complimenting a particular skill or attribute.  “You are so artistic.  I like the way you combined colors here.”  Then point to what you like. 

My kids often bring art work to me (or a story, or even handwriting practice from my 1st grader) and will ask, “So what’s your favorite part?  Which “H” do you like the best?”  It’s not about complimenting the whole, but about finding one part of that scribbly drawing I can comment positively about.

But there is time for constructive criticism, too.  We get the lower-case letter d confused with b.  Sometimes, I have to flat-out say, “We need to work on this.  I think you could be a little confused.”

Remember, self-esteem works as an inner guage for kiddos.  They like to see how they are valued and accepted by others, including family, friends, teachers, classmates.  We need social acceptance, period.  Beginning around age 8, kids self-esteem works as a kind of rollercoaster as peers see them as likeable, attractive, smart, athletic, etc. 

According to experts, children absolutely need to feel valued, accepted, and loved…this will ultimately lead to high self-esteem; a can-do attitude. 

I’d like to leave you with this reminder, praise success in a skill-based model:

“Wow!  I love seeing how hard you working in soccer (fill-in blank for your child’s interest).  Some of the other teams will be better, but you’re really giving it your all and that’s what I like about YOU!” 

[image source: www.thebookworm.net 10.08.13,  www.angelikavorderstrasse.com, www.childhelp.org]

…that’s it!  Class dismissed.

Next week:  Breaking the ice/making friends.

About leslie1218

Author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012) frantically working on a novel that should be ready for submission this fall. Mom of two spritely redheads & one chubby basset hound whose stories & images appear in my writing from time-to-time.

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