Self-esteem and Your Piece of the Pie

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | July 17, 2012

Self-esteem and what other people think of us are at the opposite ends of the scale. If I evaluate my worth I take into account the work I do and how others value me as their friend, relative or acquaintance. I may listen to someone who speaks negatively about me but that has no impact on what I think of myself. I am an adult. I can roll with the punches and I think I’m a pretty good person.

Children, on the other hand, rely heavily on the opinion of others to help form their view of themselves or their self-esteem. These ‘others’ include friends, relatives, acquaintances, teachers and other school staff and parents. Another child may speak negatively in a casual manner about them and they can pretty much let it roll off their back. (Not bullying.) When a teacher speaks constructively to this child they may feel disappointment but they will usually strive to study harder to achieve their well-earned praise. They will still generally feel good about themselves.

However, when a parent speaks negatively or harshly to the child their feelings are impacted even though they might not show it and self-esteem often takes a silent blow. The parent’s words will carry more weight than the teacher, the relatives or friends combined. If there were a pie chart— parents would have the lion’s share.

Because our children view us as so important and with such authority, it is our responsibility to measure our words carefully before we speak. We often say what we think rather than what we mean. Think of yourself as the President of the [your last name here] Family. Presidents must be careful what they say for many reasons and you are no different.

The next time your child breaks a plate, loses your hammer, makes a bad choice or any number of scold-rich opportunities—stop— and think! Ask yourself, “What do I want them to come away from the experience with?” That will be your guide.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

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About Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

Jackie has volunteered for more than twenty years for children and family issues. Currently she writes for parents in the "Reminder" and "Parent Rap" Facebook page. If you are interested in receiving the "Reminder," send her a message.
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