At Down To Earth, we treat low self-esteem by starting with our view of how good self-esteem is developed. We believe that good self-esteem is developed in three steps. First, someone makes an ACCURATE ASSESSMENT of what you can do. Next, someone TEACHES you how to do it. FINALLY, someone CONSEQUENCES your behavior. Developing good self-esteem can go astray in several different ways.
First-time parents often have no idea what is reasonable for kids to do and they make inaccurate assessments in both directions. Some overestimate what a child can do and some underestimate what a child can do. Parents with more than one child often compare the children because it’s the only information they have. That can result in errors in both directions, too. If the first child was advanced, you’re going to overestimate the skills of the second child and if the first child was delayed, you’re going to underestimate the skills of the second child.
If you have overestimated your child’s skills and then you do what you know is right as a parent and you enforce your expectations, the kid can’t win. The kid can’t ever reach the goals because they are too high. He will continually fail. Spend a couple of years as a constant failure and, what do you know, you’ve got low self-esteem.
If you have underestimated your child’s skills, but you’re still being a good parent and enforcing those expectations, the kid will always succeed in your eyes and that’s a good thing. However, once he starts playing with other kids or enters school, his actual skills will be below his potential. One day another kid his age is gonna tell him he can do something and he’s gonna KNOW he CAN’T because you’ve never let him do that. Next, a teacher or day care worker will look at him and tell him he can do it and he’s still gonna KNOW he CAN’T because you never expected him do that. He’s gonna be confused, but he’s gonna stick with what you taught him and he’s probably not gonna try whatever it is. Therefore, that will just prove to him that you were right, he can’t do it. All you need is a couple of those things like riding a bike, packing your own lunch, walking along a ledge, or tying your own shoes, and suddenly the kid sees that there’s a lot of things he can’t do that the other kids can. Well, what do you know, I must be a loser. Low self-esteem.
Developing good self-esteem can also go wrong when you have accurate expectations, but you don’t provide enough teaching for the kid to be able to reach those expectations. You might accurately assess that your 7-year-old should be able to clean his own room, but you never really taught him how to do it, so he still can’t. You accurately expect that your 9-year-old daughter should be able to dress herself in the morning, but you’re always in there helping (because you think you have to) and as a result, she never really does learn to do it herself and you’re really irritated that you have to be in there with her every blasted morning when she should be able to do it herself by now! When a kid knows darn well that you expect him to be doing these things by himself, but he sees that he still isn’t doing them, he assumes that he can’t and feels like a failure. Low self-esteem.
Good self-esteem also can go astray when you may or may not have accurate expectations, and you may or may not have taught them how to do what you expect, but you don’t back up the expectations with consequences. Consequences, both positive and negative, are important. If you expect your son to brush his teeth at night and you teach him how to do it, but you never go in and compliment him when he’s doing it, he probably won’t continue. If you expect your daughter to put away her clothes and you’ve taught her how to do it, but when she doesn’t do it, you do it for her, she’ll never do it on her own. If you expect your kid to pack his lunch and you’ve taught him how to do it, but you never let him go to school without a lunch on the days he forgets, he’ll always rely on you to do it and he’ll never fully learn to do it himself. Then you’ve got a kid that knows darn well they can do something, but that they still aren’t doing it. When you’re not doing something that you know darn well you can, you feel badly about yourself and suffer from low self-esteem.
PARENTS ARE HUMAN
It sounds like we’re talking an awful lot about parenting. Some parents might be feeling uncomfortable, like we’re trying to blame them for their children’s problems. Not so. The parents we work with are kind people who are doing what they think is the absolute best for their children. They love their kids, they work very hard for their kids, and they want their children to have fun and be happy. They are, in our opinion, good people.
At Down To Earth, we don’t judge parents. However, we do assess, teach, and consequence parents and you know what that means …
SEVERAL FOR THE PRICE OF ONE
Here at Down To Earth, we are able to offer two or three or more self-esteem increases for the price of one! How does that work? Well, first of all, we begin by making an ACCURATE ASSESSMENT of what the parents can do and then we TEACH the parents how to do it and then the parent gets CONSEQUENCES.
What kind of consequences are we talking about? If the parents try to learn, they practice what we teach them, and then they do what we teach them, the consequences will be that their children’s self-esteem increases! The kids will behave better! The kids will be happier! The kids will have more fun! Those are nice consequences, aren’t they?
When parents get the hang of what we teach them and they start doing it well and they start reaping the benefits, then the parent’s self-esteem raises, too! They can also certainly use the same principles on any other children they might have, so you end up getting SEVERAL self-esteem increases FOR THE PRICE OF ONE.
Want to follow this a little further? Who was responsible for building your self-esteem? What if they would have learned these principles? If you learn the principles now and pass them on to your children, how far will the effects reach? Will your grandchildren benefit from what you do today? Will your great-grandchildren reap the benefits of your hard work? What about the descendants that you’ll never even meet, the ones that will be born after you are gone?
What you do today can easily benefit your family for the next 100 years! How are we so sure about that? Because we’ve seen evidence of it! Talking with parents, we’ve asked about their parents and their grandparents and we can see things that happened several generations ago continue to impact positively on the present day, 80-100 years later!
Oh my gosh, you’re scaring me! You mean that mistakes I make now might haunt my family for 100 years?!?! Nope, we’ve got some more good news for you. When you make mistakes as a parent, it might cause some sort of distress for your children. However, while you’re still alive, if you care about your kids, you usually notice and do something about it. If your kids are adults and they feel lousy about something you did, they usually do something about it. If they manage to have kids and pass it on to them, something usually goes wrong with the kids and they do something about it. The bad stuff bothers people and they usually try to do something about it, so your mistakes today are not very likely to have the same staying power as the good things you do. The good stuff, people try very hard to hold onto and pass on. They tell stories about it and they try to copy it. That stuff just lasts and lasts and lasts in a family. Give your family something lasting, pass on self-esteem!