Parent Resources

Psychological Basis of True Self-Esteem in Children

Praising a child only for good performance of a job is insufficient for one reason: the praise is qualified. It can be withdrawn at any time. The next task may seem less successful, less worthy of parental approval.

DON'T…
1. …let a day in your child's life go by without in some way letting him/her know of your love!
2. …be afraid to use compliments freely and often.
3. …say, "I cannot think of anything he/she has done today that I can praise". If you pause to consider carefully, you'll find something — No Matter How Small it is — so speak positively about it to your child.
4. …be afraid to be warmly affectionate with your adolescents.
5. …criticize your children's speech.
6. …use "double-bind" communication.
Explanation: This occurs when the speaker's words convey mixed signals and feelings (a positive followed shortly by a negative comment, a critical and deflating remark after a complimentary one.) Continuous double bind communication is contradictory, inconsistent, and hopelessly confusing to a child.

7. …quarrel openly with your spouse.
8. …pose as a long-suffering, martyred parent.
Explanation: Don't say, or even imply, "look what I'm doing for you." You accomplish nothing by such a statement, and your child is likely to be made to feel that he is an unwanted burden.

9. …use a letter for criticism or fault-finding.

DO…
1. …give each of your children every day a hug, a smile and a kind word.
2. …remember that warmly affectionate physical contact is important.
3. …remember the special importance of your smile.
4. …be aware of the power of even small physical gestures.
5. …search continually for the right (i.e. positive and loving) words to say to your child.
6. …remember the attributes of the true compliment.
7. …treat and talk with your children as you would your guests or other adults.

[Gilmore, 1979]