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Chapter 4: Self-Esteem Toolset                                                                      85

 

CHAPTER 4

SELF-ESTEEM TOOLSET

 

  

 

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CHAPTER

4 SELF-ESTEEM TOOLSET

  

We can build a beautiful house and decorate it with expensive, fashionable furniture, but if the structure itself is of poor quality, its beauty is simply a disguise. We will be continually frustrated with the problems resulting from its inferior quality. On the other hand, we can build a house that is plain and simple but of high-quality workmanship. This house, while not as pretty or expensive, is more valuable in a different way. While we might occasionally be disappointed by the external appearance, we can feel satisfied that the house is worthwhile and will experience fewer problems.

Likewise, healthy parents help their children feel good about their inside qualities, even when their outside appearance is less than perfect. To do this, healthy parents use specific attitudes and tools, such as those in the Self-Esteem Toolset.

 

IN  THIS  CHAPTER

This chapter encourages us to consider three important parenting ideas:

  1. There is a difference between self-esteem, self-image, and ego-esteem.
  2. There is a difference between praise and encouragement.
  3. The attitudes and language of descriptive encouragement are the most effective tools for building self-esteem.


WHEN  TO  USE  THIS  TOOLSET

We can build self-esteem anytime, when people work hard on a task, do something well, feel frustrated, make a mistake, or accomplish a goal. We can use these tools with anyone, with children, adults, and ourselves.

 

WHAT  IS  SELF-ESTEEM? 

 Self-esteem refers to our feelings about our inside qualities. This includes our worth as a human being, sense of purpose in life, and how lovable we think we are. 

Self-image refers to our thoughts about our outside appearance, what we think others see. This includes our looks, talents, popularity, or accomplishments. 

A Personal Story. Throughout my childhood, I had a bad under bite. Wearing braces for over five years still didn‚Äôt correct the problem. It was difficult not being pretty, and my self-image was always low. Nevertheless, I felt confident and capable and knew I had a lot of positive qualities‚ÄĒ inside. I did not love my looks, but I loved who I was. As an adult, I had reconstructive surgery and could see some prettiness for the first time. I still avoid mirrors, but the experience helped me realize that outside appearances are helpful, but inside qualities are what really count .When people appear to have a positive self-image, we often assume they have high self-esteem. Having a positive self-image is important, but it is only superficial. We can have a positive self-image, but still feel we are no good inside. Likewise, we can feel worthwhile and lovable even when we are insecure about our looks or popularity.

 

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There is a myth that if parents praise or compliment children, they will become conceited. Conceit is a belief that I am better than others. This type of self-image is called ‚Äúego-esteem.‚ÄĚ People with high ego-esteem build themselves up by putting others down. Their defensiveness is a disguise for their real insecurity.¬†

 People with high ego-esteem often compete with others, trying to be the best or always win. Egotistical people believe they are better than others. 

Our job as parents is to raise fully functioning adults, not just adults who appear to be well-adjusted. We are often surprised when children or teens who appear confident run into problems. We thought they were well-adjusted, because they appeared so. When we use effective parenting skills, we might not have children who are always on time or never argue, because they are human, but we will reach our goal of raising well-balanced adults. True self-esteem comes from within. When we have a healthy self-esteem we are confident, independent, and willing to try new things. We strive for excellence and try to do our best. We accept ourselves as we are, recognizing both our strengths and weaknesses. We work to improve ourselves, but are not perfectionists; we have realistic expectations for ourselves.

 

ENCOURAGEMENT  VERSUS  PRAISE

Encouragement is the most effective tool to build self-esteem. If we want to help build positive internal qualities, such as courage, confidence, a sense of purpose, or self-worth, we need to use words and phrases that focus on these positive, internal qualities.

Parenting advice often tells us to praise our children, but praise and encouragement are very different. When we read advice that tells us to praise our children, we need to look closely at how they define or explain praise. Often, what they call praise is actually encouragement. When we understand the difference, we can avoid common mistakes and use the tools to their full potential.  

  • Encouragement¬†uses descriptive, non-judgmental terms that cause others to¬†say positive things to themselves.
  • Praise¬†uses judgmental labels that can accidentally cause discouragement or¬†add negative pressure. It focuses on others‚Äô opinions of our worth.

The way we word statements influences what others say to themselves. Encouraging words cause good feelings, so children naturally want to do better. Even when we disapprove of children’s behavior, encouragement lets them know we still unconditionally love and accept them as worth-while human beings. Praise is a conditional reward and motivates children to do better if they can please others or get a reward. This causes children to become dependent on others’ opinions for their self-worth. 

Encouragement  has  two  parts:

  1. What we say.
  2. What  others  say  to  themselves  as  a  result  of  our  statement.
 

 

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First, let’s summarize the eight major differences between praise and encouragement. Then we’ll take a closer look at the specifics of each.

PRAISE  .  .  .    ENCOURAGEMENT  .  .  .
  1. Gives approval or love if people are acting ‚Äúgood.‚ÄĚ
  2. Focuses on what other people expect or think. It can be insincere and superficial. It fosters praise ‚Äújunkies.‚ÄĚ
  3. Rewards a job completed or done well. People can use it to control or manipulate.
  4. Uses ‚Äúconstructive criticism‚ÄĚ to improve others. Expectations are sometimes unrealistically high. It adds pressure to perform or to be perfect.
  5. Uses judgmental words that label people or their acts.
  6. Is based on competition, being better than others.
  7. Is only given when people do what the praiser wants.
  8. Mistakes are reflections of internal worth.
  1. Gives approval and love unconditionally.
  2. Focuses on what the receiver feels or thinks. It is sincere and fosters trust in one’s inner voice and judgment.
  3. Points out any effort made, even if a task is still in progress. It focuses on what is right or positive.
  4. Describes improvements already made. Expectations are realistic. There is no pressure to be perfect, just to do one’s best and strive for excellence.
  5. Uses words that describe the value of the job or the internal qualities displayed while doing it.
  6. Focuses on cooperation and building on the strengths of each family member.
  7. Is given any time, even when people are discouraged.
  8.  Mistakes are opportunities to learn.