Clinica Sierra Vista WIC

Full Esteem Ahead

by Michael E. Kirk, PhD
Dr. Kirk is a local clinical psychologist, father and grandfather, who specializes in working with families, adolescents, and children.

Robbie came home on time, and no one said a thing. Alexis got several B's and one A on her report card no one said anything. McKenna held the door open for an older lady at the grocery store no one said anything. Alexis hit her brother, and her mother called her a "brat." McKenna left some of her clothes in the bathroom, and her father called her "lazy." Robbie left some pizza sitting on a plate in his room, and his father said he was a "slob." The common factor here is that each of these children is receiving effective communications from a parent. Communications that verbally and emotionally label the child because of his or her behavior. As a parent, you are in charge of creating your child's sense of self-esteem. And, it could go either way, good or bad.

It seems a little good from a parent can go a long way with a child, whether it is a smile or kind word. Every moment you are with your child and every word you utter offers your child a glimpse of how you view him or her. It is that simple. When a child closes his eyes to sleep, all that has occurred throughout the day culminates in his neurons enhancing that message within his brain. Remember, you are what you think, and this goes for children as well. So, focus on just how you wish your child to behave in the morning and point out specific similar behaviors that your child exhibits the night before!

What we must do as parents is inform our child as to what positive things we see in him. A child who sees himself as a happy person, as told to him by his parents' remarks, then acts in a contented manner and exhibits positive behaviors toward others. Too often, parents remark just how difficult it is to get a child up in the morning. "I have to go in there ten different times to get her out of bed, " says father, "and she is snotty all morning long. I just have to yell at her." The problem is, parents will be too attentive to that behavior, which the child eventually learns and comes to understand is who she is. So, she uses that behavior again every morning. So each morning, BECAUSE a parent was responsive to her the day before, she will exhibit

the same behavior, because she went to bed at night believing that is what she must act like.

What a parent can do is inform the child that "one wake-up call is all I give from now on" and follow through. If a child is not ready to leave for school on time, she can walk or get dressed in the car. But, the parental attitude has to be one of patience and understanding. "I need everyone in the car that is going with me," says father. No yelling or condemnation is necessary, only: This is the way it is going to be. Apply this method on any problem behavior: I will be glad to give my child a ride, when his room is clean. Your child recognizes that to get something, he must give something. Your attitude is non-punitive, so he is not feeling ashamed or embarrassed. After completing his chore, you can speak to him and note how pleased you are with his "excellent behavior." In doing so, you will give your child all the steam he or she needs for good self-esteem.

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Tags: Featured Story, Preschool, Tweens & Teens

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