What does it take to raise competent, good-natured children who can feel a healthy respect for themselves? Research has shown over and over that good parenting involves two basic components. One will not surprise you, but the other one may catch you off guard.
We are very aware today that children are born with different personalities and temperaments that are not created by their parents. Nevertheless, parents (and caretakers) do make a difference, and here in the United States we need to get back on track regarding what children's self-esteem is really about.
What are the two parenting ingredients that make for good self-esteem? First, good parents are warm and sensitive to a child's needs. They understand their child's positive as well as negative feelings. They are comforting in times of crisis and pain, as well as appreciative in times of triumph and accomplishment. They are supportive of a child's individuality and encourage his or her growing independence.
That's no big news flash.
What we often overlook, though, is that good parents are also demanding. They clearly communicate high--but not unrealistic--expectations for their children's behavior. Good behavior and achievements are appreciated and reinforced when they occur. When the kids act up, on the other hand, Mom and Dad respond with firm limits, but not with fits of temper or righteous indignation. After a child makes a mistake, the parents' message is, "I'm sure you'll do better next time."
Parents who child-rearing philosophy involves both warmth and "demandingness" tend to produce competent children. There are of course no guarantees, but their kids will have a better chance of becoming more self-reliant, self-controlled and happier. They will have a better chance of being accepted and well liked by their peers, and of having a sense of belonging.
Sometimes, though, parents have blinders on. We're so busy, we don't have time--or take the time--to do some of the things that will really foster self-esteem. Such as what? Such as helping our children develop social skills and academic and physical competence. Your kids' self-esteem is ultimately going to be earned or not earned in the real world--not in a fantasy world.
Source: 1-2-3 Magic Newsletter, February 2012