I’d be the first to admit that I don’t adhere to the Dr. Spock method of raising or disciplining children. I know that probably comes as a shock to most of those who regularly read my posts, but it’s true. I believe that rules and boundaries and consequences are good for children. Further, I don’t think that a child’s psyche is warped or harmed by corporal punishment. In fact, I think that the opposite it true. I believe that there are times when letting children misbehave, be disobedient or in general display rebellious or untoward behavior is more damaging in the long run than a swift swat on the backside or some other form of discipline.
However, one of the emphases of the modern parenting movement that I have appreciated is that of seeking to build a strong self-esteem in our children. Now, when I speak of “self-esteem,” don’t read “arrogance” or “pride” or “self-centeredness.” Rather, understand that I am talking about a confident assurance that comes from knowing “who you are” and “whose you are.” I believe that self-esteem is really the state of “being comfortable in one’s own skin” and knowing the One who made your skin to begin with. It is feeling good about who you are as a person – one that was created by a loving, creative, and relational God.
This is kind of confidence is a character trait that I desire to see built into the lives of my children. I want my little girl, Laura Kate, to grow into a strong, godly, mature and caring woman. I want my boys to grow up to be strong, confident, protective and godly men. I want them to be who God created them to be. I want them to know what’s right and what’s wrong – and why. I want them to be happy and holy. I want them to be caring and courageous. I believe that these traits come from, or are at least strengthened, by a strong, spiritual and healthy self-esteem.
So, let me share some simple, but important, ways that I believe can help instill and strengthen self-esteem in your children.
* Remember, and practice, the power of positive expressions in your child’s life daily.
* Discover and develop your child’s natural strengths.
* Let your children see, and learn, from your mistakes.
* Teach them the age old truth – “Nobody is perfect.”
* Allow your children the opportunity to solve their own problems before coming to rescue.
* Encourage your children on their effort, not just the finished product.
* Set boundaries for them to exercise their individuality within.
* When you have to discipline, never beat “down” – always lift “up.”
* Teach, and remind, them often of the fact that they are a unique, special, one-of-a-kind creation of God – and that they are ultimately accountable to Him.
These are a few simple thoughts on how to strengthen self-esteem in your children. Remember, the Bible teaches that children are a gift from the Lord and we will be accountable to Him for how we have led and loved, guarded and guided, disciplined and developed them. So, take some time today to give them a “way to go!” Tell them how proud you are of them. Help them when they mess up to see what went wrong, and why, so that they won’t make the same mistake twice. Lift them up – never beat them down. After all, that’s one of the reason’s we wear the name “parents.”