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Building Character ~ How Self-Esteem without Caring Creates Selfishness in Kids

By Jean Tracy, MSS

Do you want your child to have a healthy self esteem? Inside you'll find parenting tips for decreasing selfishness, increasing self-esteem, and building character too.

The Narcissism Study:

Everyone can benefit from healthy self-confidence. But selfish confidence can lead to narcissism. Self-centeredness, lack of emotional warmth toward others, and over-controlling and even violent behaviors are characteristics of narcissism.

Professor Jean Twenge and her colleagues traced this problem from the self-esteem movement of the 1980's. Her study showed the results from 16,475 college student responses on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory from 1982 - 2006. They answered such statements as:

    "If I ruled the world, it would be a better place."
    "I think I am a special person."
    "I can live my life any way I want to."

The study found that two-thirds of college students had above average scores on narcissism (self-centeredness) which is 30 per cent more than students in the 1980's.

The Self-Centeredness Problem:

The study says that narcissists (self-centered people) tend toward infidelity, dishonesty, and game-playing.

Professor Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me: Why Today's Young American Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled, and More Miserable Than Ever Before, asserts that today's young narcissists "react aggressively to criticism and favor self-promotion over helping others."

Since the 1980's children have been taught to repeat, "I am special," and many other confidence builders. Some children have become overly confident and self-centered. How can you build self-confidence without turning your child into a selfish kid?

Healthy Self-Esteem Solutions Must Include:

    Family Values
    Empathy for others
    Social skills

Three Parenting Tips for Raising Healthy Self-Confidence with High Self-Esteem:

Teach family values in family meetings where respect, problem solving, and commitments to improve the family are featured.

Teach children to care about others by discussing the social dilemmas all kids face.

Teach children social skills that include kindness, understanding and promoting other kids.

Hold family meetings. You have years of opportunities for holding family meetings. They help children think outside themselves, consider each member's feelings, and practice the values they learn throughout each week.

Discuss moral dilemmas. Children face many moral dilemmas from the time they enter school. Discuss those dilemmas to help your kids care about people outside the family and get beyond thinking about "me, myself, and I."

Role-play social skills.Children learn to treat other people with respect and help others feel good about themselves. This will boost self-confidence in your children and in all whom they touch.

The Self-Esteem Conclusion:

Telling your child to repeat affirmations like, "I am special, "is fine as long as it excludes the self-centeredness that leads to anti-social values. Encourage positive self-affirmations from your child. Give your child positive affirmations that include family values, empathy for others, and social skills. If you do, your children won't be selfish. Instead they'll become people of character with healthy self-esteem.


Jean Tracy, MSS invites you to receive with our Free Parenting Newsletter:
1. 80 Fun Activities to Share with Your Kids
2. 101 Ways to Get Your Children to Cooperate

For more parenting tips and tools, pick up 33 Family Meetings Kids Love to help your children speak up and grow with confidence.

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