“You get confidence from overcoming adversity, not from being told how great you are all the time.” – Dan Kindlon, Ph.D., author of Tough Times, Strong Children, as quoted in the November 2010 Parents Magazine
I read the above quote and I wanted to jump up and shout Yes!, because it’s so true. We have always worked hard to emphasize to both our boys that the result is not as important as the effort they put forth.
I know parents who tell their children that they are the most or the best (fill in the blank), and heap praise and superlatives on them that simply aren’t warranted. I know they trying to give their children “positive feedback,” which is what society tells us to do. But there’s going to come a day when those children realize that their parents are just giving them empty words, and if that’s all they’ve gotten over the years, then they’ll lack the self-confidence, or what self-esteem expert Nathaniel Branden calls self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is one of the two components of healthy self-esteem, and means “confidence in the ability to cope with life’s challenges,” which “leads to a sense of control over one’s life.” (The other component is self-respect.)
It’s not always easy to watch your children struggle – in fact, it’s pretty darn hard to do. And it’s usually easier to just do things for them. But work with your children to overcome the obstacles they encounter, and they’ll thank you for it later on.