Healthy Kids    

Help your child develop self-esteem

Dr. Schwartz's first rule on raising a happy child

Help your child develop self-esteem


The following is one of 14 variables that child development experts and happiness researchers believe attribute to raising not only a happy child but also continued happiness through adulthood.

Self-esteem can be loosely defined as a measure of a child’s confidence as he approaches the challenges of life. Whether these challenges are academic, intellectual, artistic, physical or social, self-esteem influences not only the outcome but also the way the challenge is met. As one author puts it, “self-esteem is the best gift a parent can give a child. Healthy self-esteem reduces anxiety and worry, which are related to unhappiness.”

The development of self-esteem begins early in the life of any child.  One of the keys to the development of healthy self-esteem is for your child to feel that he has value and your love regardless of his behavior or accomplishments.

The ‘80s gave us the term “quality time.” It was a term coined by the “yuppies” as a means of rationalizing the small amount of “well spent” time with their children. Quality time is a good idea, but the more time you spend with your children, the happier they will be. You will also have fewer regrets about missed opportunities when your children become adults.

If this recommendation makes sense to you, it will become a practice. And, in any practice that we are committed to – no matter how many mistakes we make or how often we deviate from what we believe to be correct – we will keep trying until we get it right or at least until we improve.

The same concept pertains to parenting; parenting is very much a practice. I hope as you are enjoying these more relaxed days of summer, some of the ideas help bring more happiness into your family’s lives.

Paul Schwartz, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology and Education at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh. 

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