Children with high self-esteem have confidence in their value to their family, friends and themselves. They never bully others and are rarely bullied themselves. They are generally polite, nice and easy to be around. They like themselves.
Social confidence isn’t always associated with high self-esteem. I’ve met teens who were voted most popular in school yet attempted suicide as they saw themselves as worthless.
Bullying is a sign of low self-esteem. I’ve worked with a lot of bullies and the one question I ask that often brings them to tears is “Do you like yourself?” The answer is always “no”.
So how do you raise children with high self-esteem? It’s easy, you just teach them how to respect themselves and others. You set rules, boundaries and consequences so they have a way to build up their self-esteem. Then you consistently keep this evolving and changing throughout the years to suit their development.
The key is to stay calm and in control of yourself. If you can’t control yourself how on earth are you going to control your children?
Imagine if you went to work and your boss yelled at you? How would it make you feel? What if he yelled at you every day? What if he yelled at you every day for years and years? This is what a lot of children go through with their parents. These are the kids who turn into wild teens. I’ll usually ask the parents of delinquent teens if they yelled at them growing up and you can guess how they answer.
Have you seen that Russell Peters bit about how he threatened to call Children’s Aid when his Dad was about to spank him. His dad said, “Well, let me get you the phone tough guy. But I know it will take them 23 minutes to get here …etc.” Very funny.
The spanking law debate is going strong yet again. What’s so stupid about it is that anyone thinks that in the heat of the moment a parent is going to stop and think, “Wait a minute, is this now legal or not? Stay there Johnny, Mommy’s just going to google if I can spank you or not.”
What about yelling? Should the law get involved in this one too? Should parents get a decibel meter to see if they are yelling or just speaking loudly? The needle goes crazy and the kids call the cops?
I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be laws out there but what about putting all that money and effort into giving parents better parenting tools? You don’t need to spank or yell to get kids to listen to you. All you need is leverage.
Leverage comes in many forms:
Taking fun stuff away
Offering fun stuff
Being a leader your kids respect (this one’s the best)
Many children don’t turn to their parents when they need someone to talk to because they fear being judged, lectured or just not heard.
A bit of fear is good so long as it’s fear that you’re going to follow through on consequences when they do something they’re not supposed to do. But if they fear you because you’re going to yell at them, hit them, ground them for life, etc. … not good.
If you are not the safety net, they’ll turn to someone else. That could be a teacher, coach, grandparent or even a peer. Talking to peers is great, but they are not equipped to guide them when needed. Besides, do you really want your children turning to others instead of you? Of course not.
Make Listening your top parenting priority. Listen to understand, not to gather information to lecture with. There’s a huge difference between the two and one will turn you into the safety net, the other will force your children to turn to other people. Or even worse, have no one to turn to.