This is one of those high-wire acts of parenthood where you are working without a net. You want to raise a well-adjusted, self-assured child, but you don’t want to raise arrogant, spoiled, think-they-are-better-than-the-rest-of-the-world children.
So how does a parent hit that happy medium between raising a fearful insecure child and an arrogant spoiled brat? It’s tempting to say, “Very carefully,” but I won’t say that. Here are some points for parents to consider:
Don’t let children win every time: When you do let children “win,” make sure that they have tried hard and put forth plenty of effort. “Winning” without trying gives a child an overly inflated sense of self-worth.
Give value to your child’s opinion: So many times children are simply ignored in conversations between adults, even when the decisions reached will impact the child. Let your child know that his opinion is worthy of consideration. However, you don’t want to let the child dictate what will be done. Adults make decisions, but children’s opinions count.
Praise a child but only when he’s earned the praise: Don’t lavish praise upon a child for anything that he didn’t give his best effort. Then — whether he wins or loses — praise the child for putting forth real effort. Effort is praised, not winning or losing. On the other hand, you never,
ever berate a child for losing if he gave the task his best effort.
Reserve the highest praise for when your child has performed a generous act or shown real compassion for another living thing.
You remember those schoolyard bullies from your own school days, don’t you? They are the children of parents who lavished unwarranted praise upon them and gave them an inflated sense of self-worth. They think they are better than everybody else because they were raised to believe they were better than everybody else. The victims of the bullies are those with low self-esteem. The idea for parents is to raise a child with high self-esteem, but one who isn’t overconfident to the point of becoming a bully.