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Too Much of a Good Thing?

01/30/2012 07:37AM ● Published by Style

Let’s face it – every parent wants to raise their child to have confidence and surety about who they are.

However, just like in adults, it is possible for a child to have too much self-esteem, resulting in them being too self-assured to the point where it may cause problems for them and those around them, both now and in their futures.

“It seems like every parent is so concerned about their kids having positive self-esteem,” says Jemaine Pearson, Folsom resident, volunteer art teacher, and parent of two. “It gets to the point where if a kid has too much self-esteem and the parents built them up too much, when they do come into contact with a problem or something that doesn’t go right, they don’t know how to deal with it.”

For example, Pearson says she’s seen children struggle with art because they cannot grasp the concept that there is no correct or incorrect when creating art. “They don’t understand when I tell them there is no right or wrong and they’re still looking for that approval,” she explains. For that same reason, Pearson says art is a great way for parents to break their children of the constant need to always be right and find confidence in a different way, as it allows them to be in control and do what they want to do. “And they can figure out on their own whether or not it’s to their liking or not…they’re not doing it because somebody else is telling them it’s right or wrong,” she adds.

That’s not to say parents shouldn’t praise their children. According to Dr. John Powell, clinical psychologist with the Linder Psychiatric Group, Inc., with locations in Roseville and Folsom, parents should try to identify their praise so it’s more effective. “When praise does happen it’s very nice for it to be labeled, since just a simple ‘good job’ or ‘way to go’ can be vague and not necessarily convey what it is that’s being praised,” Dr. Powell says. “Praise can always be geared toward what you are trying to encourage.”

And when is it okay for parents to criticize their children? Dr. Powell says while parents may have the best intentions with their criticism, they need to take a step back and make sure their child is emotionally ready to receive the lesson, since at that exact moment what they might really need more than anything is support. “It may be about picking and choosing the right moments to speak to your children about things that you want to see them improve on,” he adds.

In the end, Dr. Powell says the best thing a parent can do for their child when it comes to instilling confidence and a sense of support comes down to something he calls “pretty simple” – unconditional love and support. He adds: “I think when you show a child that they’re unconditionally loved and supported, regardless of the ebbs and flows of their behavior and their decision making, that instills a lot of confidence to know they have a safe place, safe people, and a safe base so-to-speak from which they can launch.”

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