Self-Esteem and Competency

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Maurice Elias, professor of psychology at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. and co-author of “Emotionally Intelligent Parenting,” (paperback, Three Rivers, $13, 2000) urges parents to foster competency in their children as a way to develop a grounded sense of confidence.

He suggests the following:
When kids bring home their schoolwork, first point out what they did correctly before you go over what they did wrong.
Use the power of apology. If you lose your cool, apologize. Otherwise your children feel they deserve being the object of your temper.

Do not be afraid to give your children challenges. When you try to protect them from failure, you put a ceiling on their competency. Let them stretch.

Help your children expand their “feelings” vocabulary. Many children have a poor vocabulary to use when they want to put how they feel into words.

When you read to them, for example, ask them questions about the artwork to help them build new expressions to use about themselves.
Encourage your children to engage in acts of kindness without expecting rewards for it. Giving to others is a strong builder of self-esteem.