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The Gift of Self-Esteem

The more parenting articles I read each week, the more I begin see yet another shift in the way people view parenting.  There’s a bit of a negative spin out there right now, and has me concerned.

Twice in the last week I’ve read articles (in popular magazines) stating that we, as parents, spend too much time with our children.  We are teaching them to depend on us to meet their every need; these authors would have us believe.  We are not teaching them to become independent.

One author went so far as to say that the past focus on building self-esteem was a waste.  That we can’t, in fact, build self-esteem in our children.

It breaks my heart to read these articles.

When bullying is at a record high and children, very young children, are taking their lives because of it, how can we possibly make the claim that too much parenting is to blame?  How can we argue against setting our children on the path toward high self-esteem?

The parent/child relationship lays the foundation for how children will interact with others in the future.  Bonding with our children plays an integral role in developing trust and security.  Demonstrating empathy teaches our children to empathize with others.  Playing with them when they’re young and listening to them when they’re older shows them that we care about them, that we enjoy spending time with them, and that they are important to us.

Being there for them, no matter the circumstances, teaches them the meaning of unconditional love.

And that nonsense about our inability to help build self-esteem in our children?  Is just that: Nonsense.

We can, without a doubt, lay the foundation for healthy self-esteem.  Yes, our children need to discover and work on their strengths.  And for many, developing a healthy sense of self can be a lifelong battle.  But it doesn’t have to be.

We can start early and repeat often.

We can:

  • Praise their efforts
  • Support their dreams and goals, even if they don’t coincide with our goals for them
  • Cheer for them when they succeed
  • Empathize and hold them close when they fail
  • Be there for them, no matter the size of the tantrum or the consequences of their actions
  • Listen when they need to talk and talk when they need to listen
  • Focus on the positive.  Every.  Single.  Day.

The flip side of this, of course, is that we can also do some damage if we choose detached parenting.  If we fail to develop healthy relationships with our children and avoid boosting their self-esteem, we might actually raise anxious, depressed, uncertain children who make negative choices in an attempt to earn the attention they so desperately crave.  I would know.  These kids filter in and out of my office regularly.

When we do things like yell, ignore, belittle, use sarcasm, or emotionally detach from our children, we cause them a lifetime of hurt.

Play with your children.  Listen to their stories.  Help them solve their problems.  Make that first relationship count.

And please, for the love of small children everywhere, build them up.  Help them discover their talents.  Cheer when they need cheering and console when they need consoling.

Be there for them now.

They will thank you for it later…



Friday 20th of April 2012


Wonderfully written. The authors of the articles you mention early in your piece seem to have forgotten that Children are called "Children" for a reason -- they are not mature adults. We are helping them grow into one, therefore all the time spent early on is well worth it


Friday 20th of April 2012

I'm finding it better to listen to my heart than the so-called experts when it comes to parenting. A mother's instinct seems to always win over. Much needed point of view to share. Thank you.


Wednesday 16th of May 2012

Connie, I agree. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to find a pediatrician who told me not to waste my money on parenting books, because my heart would tell me what to do.



Friday 20th of April 2012

Beautifully said ==> "Make that first relationship count."

Friday 20th of April 2012

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Thursday 19th of April 2012

Great post! You made some very insightful points.