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How Parents Destroy The Self Esteem of Children

How to Destroy a Child's Precious Sense of Being

Parents with all good intentions to discipline their child some use disciplinary and corrective measures in ways that irreparably damage or negatively impact a child's self-esteem. 


Here are the ten things parents do that can destroy their children's self-esteem.

1.  Comparing Children to Siblings or Other Children  - Parents often believe that if they extol the positive characteristics of siblings and other children to their so-called errant child, the child will improve. This is not so, as the child who is constantly compared to others has a diminished sense of individuality and they eventually believe that they are worthless.

Parents should focus on the positive aspects and characteristics of each child and dwell less on the negatives. Build up rather than tear down as children are still developing and they require a lot of positive attention and care, comparing them to others is not the correct way to go about it

2.  Criticizing a Child's Innate Abilities, Temperament, or Characteristics

Many parents are threatened and nonplussed if their children's abilities and characteristics are different from their own. These people are firm believers that their offspring should be carbon copies of them with similar characteristics, interests, and goals. They feel that if their children are just like them, everything will be harmonious and stress-free. Those whose characteristics are different from the parents' are viewed as a threat to the familial, social order.


Parents should strive to take their own egos out of the equation and instead focus on what the child needs. Just because a child does not have the same characteristics as their parents does not mean they are a failure that needs correcting. A good strategy is to encourage children to develop their own personality and voice.


3.  Requiring Conformity

Many parents staunchly believe in blind and mindless conformity. They are of the belief that there is safety in following the prevailing and/or majority opinion. They contend that following the consensus offers a sense of belonging and security. They insist that it is safest to conform to the prevailing philosophy and strongly discourage their children's individualism and nonconformity because they think that if their children refuse to conform to the prevailing groupthink, they will be considered oddballs or worse, be ostracized and left alone, or the parents themselves will be ostracized and denigrated by their neighbors and associates.

So if a young one dares to have a unique, creative, and innovative thought or idea, it is squashed and often labeled as outlandish and weird because nobody else thought of it! These parents are totally soul-destroying and killing the dreams of a potential Picasso, Einstein, Mozart, and/or free thinker.

Conformity is a necessary thing in certain cases but parents should work on helping their child develop their unique talents while respecting the norms of society. Parents should encourage their children to think outside the box and be creative.


4. Continuously Harping About Mistakes

Making mistakes is an integral part of a child's learning and growth process. Childhood is a time to freely explore, try on different personas, and fall on your face. However, there are parents who equate mistakes with grave mortal sins. They often have insanely unrealistic expectations that their offspring must be as perfect and blemish-free as possible. God forbid that they should make mistakes. Making mistakes = ineptitude + utter stupidity. They want their kids to be perfect because perfection = success.


Well, continuous harping about mistakes to a child is tantamount to abuse. This child begins to lose what sense of initiative and risk-taking that they have and thus they become extremely anxious and risk-aversive, often not electing to attempt anything for fear of failure. They will always choose the path of the least resistance all through life.


Teaching your child to accept mistakes and failures positively is a good way to go about things. There is a great deal of value in recognizing when you make a mistake and then correcting it. There is no need to take a negative tone when speaking to a child about the mistakes they have made. Preach a positive mental approach to dealing with failures and mistakes.


5. Teaching That a Child's Dreams, Aspirations, and Goals Are Impossible to Reach

There are individuals who aspire to uncommon goals and unique careers. Many parents refuse to acknowledge this. Often, they consider their offspring's goals "unrealistic" and "lofty." They often attempt to gear their children into "more realistic" careers and aspirations, ones that are "workable" and "secure." Well, some individuals have goals and aspirations which are dramatically different and rare. They should be encouraged. Often these kids do end up settling for ordinary and safe careers, much to their regret. They are grossly unhappy, yearning for what might have been.


Instead, parents should encourage their children to pursue their dreams and let them figure out if their dreams and goals are reachable or impossible. Help the child develop a winning attitude and approach to goal setting and see what happens. While some dreams are not based in reality and are unlikely to happen, the commitment to a positive approach to accomplishing tasks is a critical skill for a child to learn. Teach them to enjoy the process and love the commitment it takes to accomplish their dreams.


6. Living Their Kid's Lives and Planning Their Careers

There are parents who believe that they know what is best for their children. They plan their children's life from birth to marriage to career and beyond. They believe that they are making their kids' lives easier and less stressful. However, they are doing irreparable damage and making their kids quite dependent and indecisive regarding the simplest life choices. Many people are living their parents' lives, not their own authentic lives, much to their regret.


Again, parents need to check their egos and loosen up a bit. Being an overbearing parent leads to pushback from the child and is not worth it in the long run. Set some boundaries and steer your child in a direction you'd like to see them go in but let them have some independence. Support the choices they make and the lifestyles they want to live.


7. Evaluating a Child's Intellectual Capacity Based on Their Grades

Many parents base all their expectations on the child's grades. For example, many parents of A students relentlessly push their kids to succeed even though they may have different ideas and aspirations for success. Conversely, many parents of C students believe that their kids are less than apt and intelligent, telling them to aspire lower as they are not ever going to be successful.


A child's grades are not always an accurate reflection of their innate intellectual capacity. An extremely conscientious A student of average ability may have to study all night to obtain those A's while a C student of above-average ability may be bored with school and have a more relaxed attitude towards their studies. To pigeonhole anyone's intellectual ability based entirely upon their grades often creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the child believes that they are stupid because they are a C student, they will become a low achiever throughout life, no matter what their human potential is.


Obsessing over a child's grades and making that the determining factor for your happiness as a parent is a bad decision. Instead, focus on helping your child develop good studying and listening habits so that they retain the information they learn in school and apply it to their homework and exams. Give them help if they need it and don't put undue pressure on them to get good grades at all costs.


8. Zeroing in on So-Called Negative Characteristics

Many parents want their kids to be as physically and emotionally flawless as possible. They often view their children's physical and emotional differences as imperfections to be corrected and/or changed and may denigrate their children in order to make them shape up. However, this has the opposite effect and gives the child a permanently poor body and self-image.


Focus on building your child up and preaching positivity. Instead of pointing out their flaws, help them develop their positive characteristics. Teach your child that no one is flawless and that everyone makes mistakes.


9. Never Praising

There are parents who do not believe in praising because they believe that it softens and spoils kids and will make them conceited and think too highly of themselves. These parents maintain that they should never have to praise their offspring for things such as having good behavior, doing chores without being asked, or earning good grades. They assert that such behavior should be a given.


Children need praise in order to assess the positivity of their performance and to continue with such behavior. If they do not receive praise, oftentimes they will not achieve what they might have.


Reinforce positive behavior and lift your child up when they do something well. Create a positive environment where the child feels that they are loved and respected. Don't praise them for every little thing they do right, but develop a pattern of praise based on their accomplishments. Doing this will allow the child to develop competence and a positive sense of self.


10. Demanding Blind Obedience

There are some parents who believe that their word is law and etched in stone, and that might equals right. These parents contend that they own their offspring. They do not view their kids as thinking, independent, autonomous individuals in their own right but instead as automatons and pieces of property that they can dictate and program at will. For them, the mantra is that their children are to obey and nothing else. They want kids who they can easily control, and they are highly threatened by those who exhibit a more independent nature.


Anyone raised by authoritarians like this becomes timid and submissive. They also become passive, believing that they do not count. They feel powerless and that others are more powerful than they are.


Instead, parents should encourage their children to develop a sense of independence and respect their authority at the same time. Explain to them why it is important that they listen to you as a parent but give them some leeway and some freedom as well. Smothering your child will lead to resentment later in life, and it is not a healthy way to raise children.

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