Healthy Kids    

Child Behavior: How you can enhance a child's self-esteem

Children need unconditional love and acceptance. There is often a misconception among parents regarding this variable. Parents often think that providing unconditional love and acceptance means “anything goes” without criticism.


On the contrary, unconditional acceptance means that a child knows that she is loved and valued regardless of her strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, lack of skills, or indiscretions in behavior. This by no means precludes setting limits. Limit setting based upon clear, reasonable and attainable rules is a necessary and important part of any child’s environment. Limits set the boundaries for a child’s behavior and make the child feel more secure.


So, when reprimanding a child, always make it clear that it is her behavior that is unacceptable, and explain why the behavior is inappropriate – “No matter what, we love you, but that behavior is not OK.”


As children age, their increased input in household rules makes them not only feel valued for their input but also gives them a sense of control over their environment, and the acknowledgement that you trust them.

Paul Schwartz, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology and Education at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh. He is available for group speaking engagements.

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