SELF-WORTH ver­sus self-es­teem

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - PARENTING -

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.”

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