SELF-WORTH versus self-esteem
The authors of Our Boys believe building your boy’s self-worth is more valuable than pumping up his self-esteem. The difference? “Self-esteem says, ‘You could be this’; self-worth says, ‘Who you are is fine,’” says Richard.
“Self-esteem came out of a movement in the 1960s when things were too tough on kids and there was a [consequent] kickback in psychology that said kids needed self-confidence and needed to be pumped up all the time. But I think self-esteem supresses emotional intelligence if it is false – it’s an artificially constructed sense of self.”
And he says building self-worth is helped by genuine praise. “The worst praise is the classic American ‘You are awesome!’ What does that mean? There is nothing above awesome. It’s like telling your child they can be the Prime Minister – no, they probably can’t! That kind of praise sets people up for failure.”
What is the best way to praise? “Our experience at Big Buddy is that it is very subtle,” says Ruth. “That nod of the head is a classic.”
Richard: “Men get it – it is beautiful. I have seen a kid surfing during a Big Buddy day out, and he managed to get up on the board and his Big Buddy just did this,” he says, showing an approving nod of the head. “I saw that boy grow about six inches. Keep it specific to one action and keep it real.”