Self Esteem

Read a great post today from Dr. Jim Taylor about self esteem.

Parenting: The Sad Misuse of Self-esteem

Self-esteem is the most misunderstood and misused developmental factor of the past thirty years. Child-rearing experts in the early 1970s decided that all of the efforts of our society should be devoted to helping children build self-esteem. I couldn’t agree more. Children with high self-esteem have been found to perform better in school and sports, have better relationships, and have lower rates of problem behavior.

The Wrong Message About Self-Esteem

Unfortunately, these same experts told parents that the best way to develop self-esteem was to ensure that children always felt good about themselves. Parents were told to love and praise and reinforce and reward and encourage their children no matter what they did. Unfortunately, this approach created children who were selfish, spoiled, and entitled.

Parents were also led to believe that they had to be sure that their children never felt bad about themselves because it would hurt their self-esteem. So parents did everything they could to protect their children from anything that might create bad feelings. Parents didn’t scold their children when they misbehaved. Parents didn’t discipline their children when they didn’t give their best effort in school. In sum, parents didn’t hold their children accountable for their actions, particularly if they made mistakes or failed-”Gosh, that would just hurt my little one’s self-esteem!”

Schools and communities bought into this misguided attempt at building self-esteem by “protecting” children from feeling bad about themselves. For example, school grading systems were changed. I remember between sixth and seventh grade my middle school replaced F for failure with NI (Needs Improvement). God forbid I’d feel bad about myself for failing at something! Sports eliminated scoring, winners, and losers in the belief that losing would hurt children’s self-esteem. My four-year-old niece came home one day from a soccer tournament with a ribbon that said “#1-Winner” on it. When I asked her what she did to deserve such a wonderful prize, she said that everyone got one! Though Woody Allen once said that 90 percent of success is just showing up, it’s the last 10 percent-the part that requires hard work, discipline, patience, and perseverance-that true success is all about. Children are being led to believe that, like Woody Allen’s view, they can become successful and feel good about themselves just for showing up. But showing up is just not enough in today’s demanding society. By rewarding children just for showing up, they aren’t learning what it really takes to become successful and showing up definitely won’t build self-esteem.

The supposed benefit of this mentality is that children’s self-esteem is protected. If children aren’t responsible for all of the bad things that happen to them, then they can’t feel bad about themselves and their self-esteem won’t be hurt. This belief has been bolstered by the culture of victimization in which we live-”It’s not my fault, it’s not my kid’s fault. But someone has to be held responsible and we’re going to sue them.” In its poorly conceived attempt to protect children’s self-esteem, our society caused the very thing that it took such pains to prevent-children with low self-esteem, no sense of responsibility, and the emotional and behavioral problems that go with it.

Of course children need to feel loved and protected. This sense of security allows them to feel comfortable venturing out to explore their  world. But we have gone way too far in protecting our children from life’s harsh realities. In fact, with this preoccupation with protecting our children, those so-called parenting experts neglected to tell parents about the other, equally important contributor to mature and healthy self-esteem.

The Missing Piece of Self-esteem

The second part of self-esteem that those parenting experts forgot to mention to parents is that children need to develop a sense of ownership of their actions, that their actions matter, that their actions have consequences; “If I do good things, good things happen, if I do bad things, bad things happen, and if I do nothing, nothing happens.” The antithesis of this approach is the spoiled child; whether they do good, bad, or nothing, they get what they want. Unfortunately, without this sense of ownership, children are thoroughly unprepared for the adulthood because in the real world our actions do have consequences.

This sense of ownership, and the self-esteem that accompanies it, is two sides of the same coin. If children don’t take ownership of their  mistakes and failures, they can’t have ownership of their successes and achievements. And without that ownership, children can’t ever really feel good about themselves or experience the meaning, satisfaction, and joy of owning their efforts. Also, without the willingness to take ownership, children are truly victims; they’re powerless to change the bad things that might happen to them. With a sense of ownership, children learn that when things are not going well, they have the power to make changes in their lives for the better.

The goal is to raise children with both components of real self-esteem, in which they not only feel loved and valued, but also have that highly developed sense of ownership. Yes, they’re going to feel bad when they make mistakes and fail. But you want your children to feel  bad when they screw up! How else are they going to learn what not to do and what they need to do to do better in the future? But, contrary to popular belief, these experiences will build, not hurt, their self-esteem. By allowing them to take ownership of their lives-achievements and missteps alike-your children gain the ability to change the bad experiences, and create and savor the good experiences.

Developing Real Self-esteem

Your challenge is to help your children understand how self-esteem develops. Much of your parenting should be devoted to helping your  children develop this healthy self-esteem rather than the false self-esteem that is epidemic in our society. You must allow your children to experience this connection-both success and failure-in all areas of their lives, including school, sports, the performing arts, relationships, family responsibilities, and other activities. Your children’s essential need to have these experiences will require you to eschew the culture of victimization that pervades modern society. You must give your children the opportunity to develop real self-esteem so they can fully experience all aspects of life, including the failures and disappointments as well as the accomplishments and joys.

Recommendations for Building Self-esteem

Love them regardless of how they perform.
Give them opportunities to demonstrate their competence.
Focus on areas over which they have control (e.g., their efforts rather than results).
Encourage your children to take appropriate risks.
Allow your children to experience failure and then help them learn its essential lessons.
Set expectations for their behavior.
Demand accountability.
Have consequences for bad behavior.
Include them in decision making.


Back to Blogging

Sorry for the delay folks. I have been working on a huge project here at PDS and it is close to being completed. I am finally back to where I can consistently post so away we go. Good stuff ahead so be on the lookout!

Carrie and I were actually talking about this the other day and I read this list today from Wired Magazine. Some I don’t even understand but some are quite good.

There are some things in this world that will never be forgotten, this week’s 40th anniversary of the moon landing for one. But Moore’s Law and our ever-increasing quest for simpler, smaller, faster and better widgets and thingamabobs will always ensure that some of the technology we grew up with will not be passed down the line to the next generation of geeks.

That is, of course, unless we tell them all about the good old days of modems and typewriters, slide rules and encyclopedias …

Photo Credit: makelessnoise via flickrPhoto credit: makelessnoise via flickr

Audio-Visual Entertainment

  1. Inserting a VHS tape into a VCR to watch a movie or to record something.
  2. Super-8 movies and cine film of all kinds.
  3. Playing music on an audio tape using a personal stereo. See what happens when you give a Walkman to today’s teenager.
  4. The number of TV channels being a single digit. I remember it being a massive event when Britain got its fourth channel.
  5. Standard-definition, CRT TVs filling up half your living room.
  6. Rotary dial televisions with no remote control. You know, the ones where the kids were the remote control.
  7. High-speed dubbing.
  8. 8-track cartridges.
  9. Vinyl records. Even today’s DJs are going laptop or CD.
  10. Betamax tapes.
  11. MiniDisc.
  12. Laserdisc: the LP of DVD.
  13. Scanning the radio dial and hearing static between stations. (Digital tuners + HD radio b0rk this concept.)
  14. Shortwave radio.
  15. 3-D movies meaning red-and-green glasses.
  16. Watching TV when the networks say you should. Tivo and Sky+ are slowing killing this one.
  17. That there was a time before ‘reality TV.’
  18. Computers and Videogaming

  19. Wires. OK, so they’re not gone yet, but it won’t be long
  20. The scream of a modem connecting.
  21. The buzz of a dot-matrix printer
  22. 5- and 3-inch floppies, Zip Discs and countless other forms of data storage.
  23. Using jumpers to set IRQs.
  24. DOS.
  25. Terminals accessing the mainframe.
  26. Screens being just green (or orange) on black.
  27. Tweaking the volume setting on your tape deck to get a computer game to load, and waiting ages for it to actually do it.
  28. Daisy chaining your SCSI devices and making sure they’ve all got a different ID.
  29. Counting in kilobytes.
  30. Wondering if you can afford to buy a RAM upgrade.
  31. Blowing the dust out of a NES cartridge in the hopes that it’ll load this time.
  32. Turning a PlayStation on its end to try and get a game to load.
  33. Joysticks.
  34. Having to delete something to make room on your hard drive.
  35. Booting your computer off of a floppy disk.
  36. Recording a song in a studio.
  37. Photo credit: ghbrett via flickrPhoto credit: ghbrett via flickr

    The Internet

  38. NCSA Mosaic.
  39. Finding out information from an encyclopedia.
  40. Using a road atlas to get from A to B.
  41. Doing bank business only when the bank is open.
  42. Shopping only during the day, Monday to Saturday.
  43. Phone books and Yellow Pages.
  44. Newspapers and magazines made from dead trees.
  45. Actually being able to get a domain name consisting of real words.
  46. Filling out an order form by hand, putting it in an envelope and posting it.
  47. Not knowing exactly what all of your friends are doing and thinking at every moment.
  48. Carrying on a correspondence with real letters, especially the handwritten kind.
  49. Archie searches.
  50. Gopher searches.
  51. Concatenating and UUDecoding binaries from Usenet.
  52. Privacy.
  53. The fact that words generally don’t have num8er5 in them.
  54. Correct spelling of phrases, rather than TLAs.
  55. Waiting several minutes (or even hours!) to download something.
  56. The time before botnets/security vulnerabilities due to always-on and always-connected PCs
  57. The time before PC networks.
  58. When Spam was just a meat product — or even a Monty Python sketch.
  59. Gadgets

  60. Typewriters.
  61. Putting film in your camera: 35mm may have some life still, but what about APS or disk?
  62. Sending that film away to be processed.
  63. Having physical prints of photographs come back to you.
  64. CB radios.
  65. Getting lost. With GPS coming to more and more phones, your location is only a click away.
  66. Rotary-dial telephones.
  67. Answering machines.
  68. Using a stick to point at information on a wallchart
  69. Pay phones.
  70. Phones with actual bells in them.
  71. Fax machines.
  72. Vacuum cleaners with bags in them.
  73. Everything Else

  74. Taking turns picking a radio station, or selecting a tape, for everyone to listen to during a long drive.
  75. Remembering someone’s phone number.
  76. Not knowing who was calling you on the phone.
  77. Actually going down to a Blockbuster store to rent a movie.
  78. Toys actually being suitable for the under-3s.
  79. LEGO just being square blocks of various sizes, with the odd wheel, window or door.
  80. Waiting for the television-network premiere to watch a movie after its run at the theater.
  81. Relying on the 5-minute sport segment on the nightly news for baseball highlights.
  82. Neat handwriting.
  83. The days before the nanny state.
  84. Starbuck being a man.
  85. Han shoots first.
  86. “Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.” But they’ve already seen episode III, so it’s no big surprise.
  87. Kentucky Fried Chicken, as opposed to KFC.
  88. Trig tables and log tables.
  89. “Don’t know what a slide rule is for …”
  90. Finding books in a card catalog at the library.
  91. Swimming pools with diving boards.
  92. Hershey bars in silver wrappers.
  93. Sliding the paper outer wrapper off a Kit-Kat, placing it on the palm of your hand and clapping to make it bang loudly. Then sliding your finger down the silver foil to break off the first finger
  94. A Marathon bar (what a Snickers used to be called in Britain).
  95. Having to manually unlock a car door.
  96. Writing a check.
  97. Looking out the window during a long drive.
  98. Roller skates, as opposed to blades.
  99. Cash.
  100. Libraries as a place to get books rather than a place to use the internet.
  101. Spending your entire allowance at the arcade in the mall.
  102. Omni Magazine
  103. A physical dictionary — either for spelling or definitions.
  104. When a ‘geek’ and a ‘nerd’ were one and the same.


I am currently reading the book Unfashionable by Tullian Tchividjian and enjoying it. He opens up the book talking about his family and how he was raised. As I was reading, one sentence (one word actually) jumped out at me and got me thinking:

“The Christianity they cultivated in our family was joyful, warm, inviting, hospitable, and REAL, not legalistic or oppressive.”


Are you real:

In the way you treat others

In the way you treat your spouse

In the way you parent

In the way you love others

In your relationship with Christ

Do your kids see a sinner in need of a savior or do they see someone who is putting up a front.

What do your kids see in you?

My daughter loves to scroll through pictures on our phones. The other day she was scrolling through and saw this picture. How do I know this? Because our verbal two year old asked me why I had my shirt off. Seeing this picture makes me think that I need to have a personal Biggest Loser competition. This picture was taken at Kings Island in Cincinnati. We took our two boys there for my oldest sons 11th birthday. We had a blast. Even though it was summer, it happened to be a chilly day at the park. The temperature made for a great day until we made the decision to ride the water ride. This particular ride offers you a 100% chance of getting wet. Since I was going to be freezing anyway, I thought I would take the chance to mark a moment. There was NO line for this particular ride (maybe because the water was freezing). You did not have to get off if you didn’t want to (and we chose not to). I wanted the boys to remember this day so I suggested that we ride with our shirts off. The boys were instantly excited (probably because their bodies are in much better shape than dear old dad)! We got on the ride, took our shirts off and threw them off to the side. The other people gave us a few looks but we did not care. As you can see from the picture, it made for a fun moment. I vaguely remember almost puking on a bunch of rides, but I know that I will never forget that time. It was a chance to give my boys a moment to remember and I am so glad we did it. Take the initiative to mark moments with your kids. They might make you look a bit foolish in the eyes of the world, but I guarantee you that it will make a memory in your kid’s lives that they will not forget. Be creative, be intentional and enjoy the ride.

My Father had knee replacement surgery yesterday. He made it out like a champ. For those of you who don’t know my dad, he is incredible. He is the most fit, in shape, healthy individual I know. Years of football and exercise had worn his knee out and he finally made the decision to get it replaced. As I was waiting for him to get out of surgery, I was thinking back on the impact he has made on my life. He has loved me through my good times and bad. He has modeled love and compassion for me. I am blessed to have him as my father (even if we are polar opposites in regards to being fit, diet and everything else healthy). After surgery yesterday his doctor, who happens to be a friend, came out and shared with us that his old knee was really banged up and in bad shape. His knee had taken a beating. He also said that this new knee, after significant rehab, would make him a new man. As he was telling us this, my thoughts went to Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” The sufferings that we go through at this present time are insignificant in comparison to eternity in heaven with Christ Jesus. We might be banged up, in pain, or going through situations that we view as difficult. But just wait. Just wait. Wait and know that our life is to be lived with eternity in mind. A time when there will be no pain. A time that will be solely focused on the glory of God. On a cold snowy day in Memphis, that’s something to get excited about.

Thanks dad for a life well lived and a knee that showed me the gospel!

Yes, I know. What a cute picture. Don’t let the cute exterior fool you! You might be asking why I would say this. Well, here’s the story:

Part of my job, in addition to being chaplain at PDS, is to coach after school sports. We have a great intramural program and it is a great way to establish closer relationships with our students. I was coaching an intramural basketball game yesterday when the fire alarm went off. All of the teams playing and their parents were sent out into the Memphis cold (somewhere around 15 degrees yesterday). You know where this is going don’t you. I find out that it was indeed my lovely 2 year old daughter that had pulled the fire alarm. She was watching the game with Carrie and Bennett and obviously thought the red box was quite appealing. Either that or she knew my team was losing and tried to put the other team in the deep freeze! Needless to say, I have been given a little grief over this one by my friends and co-workers. As I was thinking about this today, I realized how cool and calm I actually was when I found out that is was our child who pulled the alarm. That is only the power of Christ in my life. A few years ago, my reaction would have been different (my oldest could tell you that). After reading for the second time a great book by Dr. Tim Kimmel, called Grace Based Parenting, God has really been working on my heart. I am so thankful that God doesn’t act that way when I mess things up. I pull the fire alarm multiple times every day in my life. I am so thankful to serve a God of grace, love and mercy. As we start off the new year, my prayer is that our homes are full of grace! May your kids see a picture of Christ’s love in how you act and react.

Question of the day to you parents: What is the most embarrassing thing your child has done in public? Looking forward to some answers!