Is Self Esteem Overrated?
Good self-esteem without appropriate boundaries, sense of accountability, empathy, self-control, and some genuine humility can be dangerous. There are lots of criminals and corrupt politicians, who think highly of themselves. Many of us know, may be related to, and have probably worked with jerks who seem to have great self-esteem.
Sometimes people without self-efficacy and self-control have a tendency to try to control others. This is frustrating and stressful for everyone. Sometimes an over emphasis on self-esteem can teach a child that s/he should expect to feel good about doing bad (i.e. bullying, steeling, lying, swearing, etc.).
Help a child develop self-efficacy (the belief s/he has the power to accomplish or do something), good character, appropriate boundaries, empathy, responsibility, accountability, and self control, and appropriate self-esteem will almost always follow. Teach children skills. Help them accomplish things. Teach them to learn and do on their own. Help them develop self-efficacy.
We all fail. Children fail; but those who learn to fail forward will find success. Abraham Lincoln lost seven political races before he became president. During the Civil War he experiences frequent failures and setbacks; however, he had developed resiliency and self-efficacy.
An overemphasis on self-esteem may limit or eliminate the appropriate loving feedback most children need to prepare for life. (Loving feedback builds and encourages children to do better, emphasizes the positive, while still providing truthful carefrontation when necessary.)
Help children set goals and accomplish them (but let them do as much on their own as they possibly can). It doesn’t have to be formal, it can be very informal and in in small increments such as letting them help with the vacuuming or dishes when they’re young and excited to help, giving more and more responsibility without over doing it. Helping them, providing the right tools, and instructing them until they can do it on their own. Encourage and allow them to come up with and carry out their own solutions with appropriate oversight for the situation and age of the child. Remember, it’s a lazy parent who does everything for their child.
My youngest son was born towards the end of August, making him one of the youngest in his class. He struggled in school and with speech articulation, requiring the assistance of a speech therapist for a time. I remember when he was young in scouting (one of many great programs to include 4-H which can help children build self-efficacy) he was struggling to memorize something. I was speaking with him, trying to help and encourage him and told him I knew he was capable. His reply shocked me. He said: “mom doesn’t think I’m capable.” As soon as I possibly could, I had a conversation with my wife, his mother. She then had a conversation with our son. Today he is an Eagle Scout, getting all A’s and majoring in bio-chemistry.
It wasn’t just these two short conversations, we worked hard with him to help him succeed and build self-efficacy. We read together almost every morning before school and continued through the summer. Every year as other children would lose ground in reading; we would continue to read almost every morning as a family. We encouraged him and gave him opportunities to succeed.
Self-efficacy provides confidence and calmness even in the presence of adversity. Almost all children can develop self-efficacy.
“Persons who have a strong sense of efficacy deploy their attention and effort to the demands of the situation and are spurred by obstacles to greater effort”. – Albert Bandura
“The content of most textbooks is perishable, but the tools of self-directness serve one well over time.”– Albert Bandura
Self-Efficacy Beliefs as Shapers of Children's Aspirations and Career Trajectories
The Costly Pursuit of Self-Esteem
Bad Parenting -- Why Americans Need To Toughen Up
For additional information use the Google Parenting and/or Google Scholar search engines below to search for: Children Self-Efficacy