David Giller, the founder and director of The Campaign For Positive Development, sees two main causes for the epidemic state of our society:
- The lack of self-esteem that affects both children and adults.
- The inability to deal with the overwhelming levels of daily stress.
“These two work hand in hand,” says David. “A higher self-esteem creates a desire to enhance our own well-being and that of others. The more we learn to control stress and pace our daily activities, the more quality time we have to be productive, deal with life’s challenges, and just plain relax.
“Much of the poor self-esteem that we adults experience is a result of how we were treated as children: we were ignored or abused. Many of us visit therapists on a regular basis to try to work out the underlying childhood experiences blocking our paths to personal growth. Studies show that unless we come to experience self-esteem and learn to pass it on to today’s children, the next generation will be less prepared than we are to handle the increasing demands of life on this planet.”
Enhanced Self-Esteem as a Goal
What is self-esteem? Mr. Giller begins by asking: “How do you feel about the person that you are? How concerned are you about your own well-being? And what steps are you willing to take to make your life, and the lives of others, the best they can be?” These questions begin the query into our emotional well-being. The development process often goes on for years until finally there is an acceptance of the self as a part of life’s “imperfect perfection.” By accepting ourselves, all of our life lessons become positive experiences.
The question we hope to answer in this article is, “How do we pass this on to our children even before we ‘get it’?” Below, David Giller offers ten valuable tips for enhancing a child’s self-esteem beginning today:
- Spend more quality time with your children: talk with them, not at them. Take an active role in their lives by staying informed and guiding them.
- Share family responsibilities and concerns. Plan family discussions and outings. Help your children to set and achieve reasonable goals within the family unit.
- Help your child(ren) to discover and explore the consequences of their choices. Remember—positive development is the experience of accepting multiple “failures” on the way to a single success.
- Respect your child(ren)’s unique positive qualities and let them feel that their talents, interest, needs, and concerns are shared by the important people in their lives.
- Establish a rapport where they feel safe in approaching you about any subject and express their true, honest feelings. Do this by sharing with them how you feel in the subject without judging their feelings.
- Compliment and praise children for the good they are and the good they do. Give them plenty of hugs.
- Encourage your child(ren) to care for and about others: to give is to receive.
- Avoid words of ridicule, guilt, shame, etc. The adage “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me” is far from the truth, and has both short-term and long-term effects on self-esteem.
- Share, but do not force, your beliefs upon your child(ren). As Kahil Gibran wrote: “You may house their bodies, but not their souls.”
- Most importantly, be a worthy role model. Children emulate and often become their parents.
What can these guidelines so for our society? According to Mr. Giller: “It will have a profound effect on the future of our country and the entire world. We will all feel better about ourselves. The family unit will be re-established as the center for love on this planet. Children will be more receptive to getting a good education. Violence and drugs will take a back seat to pride and productivity. Fewer accidents and better health will reduce our health care costs—millions of lives and billions of dollars will be saved.”
The promise of tomorrow is created from the blueprint that we are drawing today, especially with our children. Enhanced self-esteem can serve as the catalyst that sparks the return to a safer, saner world. As adults, we should assume the responsibility of creating the environment that will foster this powerful tool for positive growth in our world today.
David Giller is the founder and director of The Campaign For Positive Development