How parents can help to build their child's self-esteem

JoAnn Deak, PhD Psychologist and Author, shares advice for parents on the best ways that to help your child to build his or her self-esteem and confidence organically
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How parents can help to build their child's self-esteem

The million dollar question is "What can I do to help my child with self-esteem?". The simple answer is, you have to make sure that they do the things that increase their sense of confidence and competence. So that if, for instance, taking swimming lessons they don't want to do, it scares them. Once they do it and see that they can do it, they feel more competent, that they have a sense of confidence, "Wow, look what I did!". Those are what I call "containers" or "vessels" that lead to self-esteem. But you have to do the things that fill those vessels of self-esteem. And so it's like a catch-22. Some kids are born with a lot of self-esteem, with a lot of confidence and competence, and they keep doing the things that increases that. Some kids aren't born with much confidence and competence, then they avoid doing the things that would fill those vessels. So you have to counter that catch-22 and encourage them, give them the smorgasborg approach of doing the things that fill up those vessels of confidence and competence and that leads to the best self esteem. Parents can't change their child's self-esteem by their expressions of love. We want you to say that you love your children, we want them to know it and believe it and that will help them while they're trying to improve their self-esteem, but words, your words, your love alone won't change your child's self-esteem. It will help them have the capability to hang in there until they develop their own.

JoAnn Deak, PhD Psychologist and Author, shares advice for parents on the best ways that to help your child to build his or her self-esteem and confidence organically


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JoAnn Deak, PhD

Psychologist & Author

JoAnn Deak, PhD, has spent more than 30 years as an educator and psychologist, helping children develop into confident and competent adults. The latter half of that period has also focused on working with adults, parents and teachers in their roles as guides or ‘neurosculptors’ of children. On her website is a quote that best describes her perspective on her work: “every interaction a child has, during the course of a day, influences the adult that child will become.”

Parents and educators at schools from New York to Hawaii, as well as such organizations as the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Independent Schools, the Association of International Schools, the American Montessori Society and the International Baccalaureate Association, have heralded Dr. Deak’s ability to demystify complex issues of child development, learning, identify formation and brain research.

Dr. Deak has been an advisor to Outward Bound, a past chair of the National Committee for Girls and Women in Independent Schools, on the advisory board for the Center on Research for Girls (Laurel School), for the Seattle Girls’ School, Bromley Brook School, the Red Oak School, Power Play and GOAL. She consults with organizations and schools across the United States. Most recently, she has worked internationally with schools, organizations, associations and parent groups in every continent (except Antarctica!) She has been awarded the Woman of Achievement Award by the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, was given the first Female Educator of the Year Award by Orchard House School, and the Outstanding Partner for Girls Award from Clemson University. She has been named the Visiting Scholar in New Zealand, the Visiting Scholar for Montessori Children’s House and has been the Resident Scholar for the Gardner Carney Leadership Institute in Colorado Springs for the past five years.

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