We sit down in the pew at church and my daughter looks at the Nativity that was just set up and then gazes at me and says, “Jesus is the light of the world and that light never goes out.” I look down at her totally proud and smile and then she says “I know could I be any cuter?!” (Shaking my head) Could you be a little more modest child? The question this raises in my head is what is the difference in instilling confidence in your child or making them arrogant?
Like most parents I am constantly telling my kids how cute they are, and how smart they are and how funny they are, which I think is great and that’s what parents should do, but where do you draw the line when they start saying it about themselves? This is typically only an issue with my daughter my son is a lot quieter with his confidence because he is already so in tuned with the potential that he may fail at something if he is not already good at it (Raising a Sensitive Kid) . However my daughter has only shown weakness and frustration with two things in her life in her six years on this planet, reading and riding her bike other then that she is a superstar and unfortunately is well aware of that fact.
I think back to my childhood and how different my sister and I were and now that we have talked as adults I know more about how it affected her at times thinking I was a more confident child then her. I know my husband and I do a good job complimenting and giving both of them credit and positive reinforcement but I also think my son has a tendency to get a lot more negative feedback as well because of his impulses. I want them both to know that we think they are superheros and understand how proud of them we are all the time. I remember hearing from my aunt years ago when talking to her daughter, she said that mom loved her brother more, and her mom simply replied, “No honey your brother just makes it easier to love him.” I think about my kids like that too, does my son think that? Does he think that we love her more because we don’t have to correct her as much as we do him? And what is that doing to her? Obviously her confidence is through the roof these days and we want her to be a strong confident young woman but how do you ensure that building up one child isn’t taking down the other in one form or another?
What portion of their self esteem has to come from just that themselves and what portion of it is learned from their parents?
Kids who have healthy self-esteem tend to:
- feel valued and accepted
- feel confident that they can do what’s expected
- feel proud of a job well done
- think good things about themselves
- feel prepared for everyday challenges
Kids with low self-esteem often:
- feel self-critical and are hard on themselves
- feel insecure, or not as good as other kids
- focus on the times they fail rather than the times they succeed
- lack confidence
- doubt their ability to do well at things
I read this article about self esteem from kids health. Reading these bullet points makes me think of a glaring difference in my two children and the life long question how can two people from the same house be so different? Why do parents treat different children differently? Is it because of the kids or because of the parents? Do we help my son more because we know he needs it or because he we think he needs it or refuse to wait for him to get it done? Do we allow our daughter to go on more play dates because we know she will be better behaved at them and not require as much assistance as her brother did. or is better because we have allowed her to go on more? How do I correct my own behavior if I am really the one at fault?
Does any other mother wake up at night and wonder what they can do better and how they can support their child in ways to ensure that they become self sufficient, responsible adults? Let me know what you are thinking? Do you have kids that are polar opposites and how do you address these differences and make them a positive?