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Challenges for Our Children
Researchers have estimated that 25-35% of children in the United States have Learning Disabilities. At least 5% have Attention Deficit Disorders. All too many times during the course of their academic careers these children are labeled by teachers (or parents) as being "lazy," or "stupid." Remarks of this type are typically interpreted by the child as, "You're no good," and the self-esteem levels drop.
At least 50% of children will experience the divorce of their parents prior to turning 18 years old. Most children, for whatever reasons too complicated to go into here, will tend to place at least a portion of the blame for the parent's divorce on themselves. Since the parents are typically placed on a pedestal in the eyes of the child, the blame for the divorce cannot be placed on the parents and must be placed elsewhere, most commonly on themselves. This also significantly impacts children's self-esteem levels.
There are other important challenges to maintaining reasonable self-esteem, such as merely being "average" in a world that worships only the good looking, the good athletes, and the well-to-do.
Let me say here and now that inappropriately high levels of self-esteem may be worse that low levels. Levels of self-esteem that are too high may lead kids to believe that they are more important than anyone else, and that they should never be frustrated by work or challenges in life. It leads young people to believe that they should always have their way. Inflated levels of self-esteem ultimately discourages children and teens from learning how to work hard, and may well lead into criminal behavior (criminals tend to have high levels of self-esteem, not low levels).
Inflated levels of self-esteem also are directly at odds with the development of one's spirituality and relationship with God. After all, who needs to develop a relationship with God when he believes that what he wants is more important than what God wants? The ultimate out come of the self-esteem movement is seen in the New Age doctrine that you are, in fact, God. Yes you. The guy who can't balance his check book or keep his car fixed. You are God? So they tell us.
People are cheated in every important aspect of their lives, emotionally, socially, and spiritually, when their sense of self-esteem is over-inflated.
So how can we instill appropriate levels of self-esteem in our children?
Briefly, here are five key thoughts . . .
First, change the way that you look at this area of life from "self-esteem" to "self-confidence." There is a difference as wide as the sea.
To "esteem" someone, including one's self, involves feelings of "reverence" or "awe" or "honor" or "glory." Words have meaning. Let's not get carried away with trying to make our kids feel good about themselves by starting to ascribe to them positions of honor normally reserved for God, and perhaps for Presidents and Kings. The majority of our society's problems are caused by people thinking that they are as important or as powerful as God, or at least that they are more important than anyone else in the world. This is not something that we really want to encourage in our children, or in ourselves.
Instead we do want to encourage self-confidence. This attribute becomes especially powerful and beautiful when paired with the virtue of self-control. Raise your children to have these two character traits, and you will have wonderful and successful children, ADD/LD or not.
Second, give lots of encouragement, praise, acceptance, and teach responsibility.
Encouragement comes when you focus on your child's assets and strengths in order to build his/her self-confidence. See the positive. Even failures can be outstanding learning experiences. Encouragement sounds like this, "I like the way that you did that," or "I know that you can do it," or, "It looks like you worked very hard at that."
Encouragement is NOT giving compliments for work poorly done, but under those circumstances it IS inspiring your child to work harder and do better. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." -St. Paul (Eph. 4:29)
Ultimately self-confidence comes from having accomplished things worth being proud of. Reserve Praise for things well done. Where Encouragement is given for effort, Praise is given for accomplishment. Just say, "That's a good start, keep at it," when the work is not yet worthy of praise. Accept your child for who he/she is. If you expected that your baby would grow into an Olympic athlete with an IQ of 148, and instead he/she is "average" then you might be very disappointed as a parent (most children are "average," which is why they call it "average").
Disappointment is often turned into anger, or at least frustration. If your child cannot live up to your dreams for him or her (and why should they?) then please be careful of your emotions. If you are not careful, your own dreams and expectations for your child will become a wedge between you and your child. Please never make your love, encouragement, or acceptance, dependent on their performance or behavior.
Teach Responsibility to your children.
Let them try things and let them fail once in a while. Don't keep bailing them out. Victory only tastes sweet if we taste the bitterness of failure once in a while. Trust me, the dog's not going to starve if he misses a meal or two. The newspaper won't come to publish a story on your family if your child fails to make his bed once in a while.
Just use these occasions to remind your child that if his dog is going to ever eat again, he needs to get out there and feed it (assuming that's your child's job). Remind your child that he or she is an important member of your home and that he needs to be responsible with doing his chores.
Make the consequences for not being responsible fit the crime. And of course be sure to reward/praise your child when he does act responsibly. Behavior that is rewarded tends to be repeated, and behavior that is ignored tends to go away -- so always reward and praise responsible behaviors in your children.
Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., is a family therapist who has been working with ADHD children and their families since 1986. He is the clinical director of the ADHD Information Library's family of seven web sites, including http://www.newideas.net, helping over 350,000 parents and teachers learn more about ADHD each year. Dr. Cowan also serves on the Medical Advisory Board of VAXA International of Tampa, FL., is President of the Board of Directors for KAXL 88.3 FM in central California, and is President of NewIdeas.net Incorporated.
I WONT DO IT! Tips for Working with the Oppositional Child
"I WON'T DO IT!" "YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!"Whether parent or teacher, we have all "been there" and "done that" with a child exhibiting refusal behaviors. Before "losing your cool" and your power as well, interventions and strategies are provided for use to help deescalate this classic power struggle.
Public Schools Can Cripple Your Childrens Ability To Read
For many adults, reading a book or newspaper seems effortless. Yet reading effortlessly comes from constant use of basic skills learned at an early age.
Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson Never Went To Public School
Most of our Founding Fathers, including Ben Franklin, Sam Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, like most average colonial Americans, spent few years, if any, in formal grammar schools of the day, yet they knew how to read and write well.Most voluntary local grammar schools expected parents to teach their children to read and write before they started school.
Why A Father Is Not A Dad
It can be said that any man who procreates is a father, whether present in that child's life or not. While this is technically true, it really takes a man to be a dad!There is nothing more insulting than a cavalier man thinking he has every right in the world to see the child he helped to create, but was never there for him or her.
Strengths and Weaknesses
All too often, children with learning disabilities are seen through their weaknesses. Like anyone else, however, they have many strengths.
EEG Biofeedback Training as a Treatment Option for ADHD
The popularity of EEG Biofeedback Training continues to grow both in the USA and around the world. Many parents are searching for treatment options for ADHD other than medications, and as a results are exploring this high tech approach to treatment.
Some Tips for Healthy Parenting
Looking back through my files I've come across several great tips for Parents. Here are just a few that I hope will be helpful to you as you invest your day in raising our next generation.
Diapers: Do You Choose Disposable Or Reusable?
When Kids Hurt Parents
The cruel callous remarks made by our offspring can sometimes wound us deeply, to the very core of our soul. The hurtful words of our children can scar us like no other.
What Makes a Good Evaluation for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?
So you have just returned home from your third meeting with your child's teacher. She tells you that your child is not getting his work done, he cannot sit still, and he is simply not going to have any success in school unless something changes.
Single Parents: Give Yourselves Credit
Single parents are not often thought of as good parents.I became acutely aware of this fact when my children were young and I was dealing with the challenges of being a single mom.
How Public Schools Assault Parents Values
Is there anything wrong with lying, cheating, stealing, shop-lifting, taking drugs, premarital sex, insulting your parents, pornography, irresponsibility, or getting pregnant in junior high school? Not according to the values taught to children in many public schools today.From the earliest times in America, teachers have believed that schools should teach moral values.
Talk Your Child Clever
Most parents can hardly wait for their baby to say its first word. This usually happens between the nine months and a year.
Single Parenting: How The Challenge Of Single Parenting Affects Your Decision To Divorce
Single parenting has seemingly become an acceptable norm which is unfortunate. According to the US Census Bureau, there were over 20 million single parents in the United States in the year 2000.
The Long Journey Home
Once upon a time, I thought I had it all. I had a child, a career, the world at my feet.
Homework Doesn't Have to Be a Battle of Wills
Homework. It doesn't have to be a daily battle of wills between child and parent.
Can Mineral Deficiencies Lead to Behavioral Problems in Children?
A while ago I received this story from David in England, who wrote: I am following your work with great interest as I am trying to get more information about the subject of ADD / ADHD for a friend of mine who was put in charge of such a child at school. She was given no training for this work nor was she given any backup.
Who Will Be Their Guardian?
If you are like most people today, you do not have a will. The reasons for this failure are many, with the most common being along the lines of "I don't have enough assets to worry about", "I don't know how to write a will", or "Lawyers charge a lot of money".
Develop Your Childs Genius - Developing Leadership Qualities
Often I have heard that leaders are born, not made. Do you think this is true? How many times did you read a biography of a great leader, and discovered that as a child, he has been quiet, reserved and rather shy? Are those natural qualities of a leader? Of course not! These people have developed their leadership qualities later in life.
Teaching Your Child Safety
Q. What is the best way to teach safety awareness to young children?A.
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