Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Raising the Self-Esteem of Kids

Photo courtesy Mary R. Vogt at

Want to raise the level of self-esteem in your kids? Have them accomplish something.

But here's the problem. In our culture our kids tend to have it easy. They don't really have to wait for anything. They know nothing about appointment TV. They have no concept of missing a program. Not really. They live in a world of DVD videos, downloadable TV shows and music, internet entertainment, and TiVo ®.

They also have little concept of limited choices. They've grown up in a world where customization and personal preferences are the norm rather than the exception. They take cable television for granted, with the various choices in programming. Internet sites, blogs, and special interest groups that cater to any interest are now a societal norm. Fast food menus have an array of choices that were unimaginable in the 70's and early 80's.

Today's kids are growing up in a world where most of their research is done online. They don't have to begin at the library. They don't even need their home encyclopedia's. They just jump online. A vast wealth of information and knowledge is at their fingertips. They have no concept of going somewhere to get information.

And think about it. Busy signals and unanswered phone calls used to mean that you couldn't reach the person. Now, it means that something must be wrong. All they know is that most people can be reached in multiple ways. People are a text message, IM chat, cell-phone, email, or an online social network away. And many of these kids have cell-phones themselves, let alone email addresses, websites, social networking profiles, and on and on.

So what do you do with kids who have so much to choose from, so much time to spend, who are doing so much to achieve maximum fun and community? You create the situation for accomplishment. You train them to persevere through trials, and achieve an end goal. Then you reward them for their successes. But you don't reward mediocrity.

It sounds old-fashioned, but it works.


  1. Edward Hallowell has written some about this in his book THE CHILDHOOD ROOTS OF ADULT HAPPINESS. He talks about the need for children to have extended times of free play. Play will lead to practice, which will lead to mastery, which leads to self-esteem.

    Great post!

  2. John,

    Funny, I've found that I still need extended times of free play myself. I learn so much when I do.

    Sounds like a good book.