Saturday, September 17, 2016

Positive Self-Esteem

Nancy Curry a psychologist and professor of child development at University of Pittsburgh and Carl Johnson who is a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh who has a doctorate in child psychology have broken down how to develop a positive self-esteem and described the role of adults in the process. They discuss the development of positive self-esteem through four constructs: love and acceptance, power and control, moral value and competence. These constructs work to help the development of a child's positive self-esteem as they develop within the family, and a child's world outside their home. Children who feel love and acceptance, power and control and have a sense of moral value and competence will learn, develop and progress toward their full potential both at home and in life.

What children need is unconditional support in their efforts to learn, grow and develop. What we say should be offered with genuine affection to who children are, not what they accomplish. Accomplishments have their own rewards built through intrinsic motivation. Let children feel joy in their accomplishments, solving problems and mastering activities without the need for adult approval. Adults should ask children how they feel about what they've accomplished, whether they could improve on their efforts and results and how they handled their frustrations and disappointments in achieving an activity. For example, if a child fails a test, a parent can ask how they feel about that. They can ask if there's something they can do differently next time in order to improve the result. They can ask how they can achieve the task of passing the test. Don't make them feel bad for failing the test or not putting the effort into passing the test, just help them realize they have to put effort into things in order for them to have the result they want. Help them see they may have made a bad (not wrong) choice and to make a different one (not right one) next time.

There are a variety of ways that help children achieve a sense of power and control. Providing children with lots of opportunities to make a variety of choices is one way to do that. Parents need to be careful to make sure the choices given to children are acceptable. For example, do you want to have yogurt or goldfish for snack? Both of these are acceptable, healthy snacks but the child can choose which one they want. Another way to give children the opportunity to have a sense of power and control  are to provide  meaningful projects and experiences for a child to do. For example, doing the reading summer program at the local public library. Parents can provide opportunities for children to explore, take risks and problem solve. These activities could include learning how to ride a bike or play the piano. When parents provide these types of activities it shows their belief in their child's abilities and it increases their self-esteem.

Moral value is the idea that children are treated fairly and each child is fundamentally a good person. A child with high moral values cares for others and learns reciprocal behavior. Parents can enhance a child's sense of moral values by making sure interactions between children and adults are characterized by mutual respect, cooperation, empathy, and fairness.

To develop competence parents should be focused on building trust and autonomy. Parents should help children develop a natural curiosity to learn, grow, achieve and master skills including social and behavioral skills. Parents should help children find constructive ways to deal with frustration, disappointment and failure.  When punishing a child make sure you criticize or punish the child's behavior and the child knows it's the behavior that is unacceptable, not the child. Parents need to take an all or nothing approach with criticisms and avoid comparing children to other's in behavior or skills. Each child needs to fill they're contributing to the group-family, community, friends etc.

When a parent develops these four constructs into their parenting style and  uses them to develop their child's self-esteem, their child can develop a positive self-esteem about themselves.

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