Character First: Is self esteem really a good thing for our children?

Over the past 40 years, schools have been promoting self-esteem over academic excellence and the self-control of America’s kids has taken a nose-dive.  That’s according to John Rosemond, author of  Parenting by the Book.   John argues that a single teacher fifty years ago had no problem controlling a 1st grade class of 40 or more children while today’s first-grade teachers have their hands full with 25.

Christina_A_VanMeter_Photo7c18d2Most parents would respond by saying, ‘What!  Don’t promote self esteem?” John explains that the opposite of high self-esteem is not low self-esteem — it’s humility, modesty and meekness (strength under control) — traits that parents do desire in their children.

John explains that children with high self-esteem generally over estimate their abilities to their ultimate detriment.  Many have an ‘entitlement’ attitude and when challenged, children with high self-esteem often doesn’t have the ability to take them on.

Monica and I remember one softball season when our child’s league policy was not to keep score so not to hurt the feelings of the loosing team!  Many of the parents (us included) didn’t agree with this reasoning so we decided to keep score for them.  And you know what?  Our children kept score on their own!  We decided that if our children never experienced challenges, failure or criticism, they would be ill prepared for the future.  .

We remember times when our children experienced disappointment, failure, frustration and criticism. Sometimes we did blame the circumstances, the test, or brushed off the situation saying don’t worry about it or it doesn’t matter. However, when we tried to help them learn from those disappointments and find a way to work through the challenges, we felt better talking the farsighted view.

Read more about self esteem in Parenting by the Book, Chapter 6, entitled ‘Character First.’

Question:  When your child experiences disappointment, failure, frustration and criticism, does he go into a tail-spin, getting depressed or aggressive?  How can you use these times to help your children learn from their failures, recognize the reality of their capabilities and find a way to work through the challenge? Please share your comments here