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Does Your Child Have Yo-Yo Self-Esteem? (Part 1)

Updated: Dec 21, 2020

Does your child’s self-esteem rise and fall with the grades she makes?

Does your child’s self-esteem rise and fall depending on who played with him at school that day?

Does your child’s self-esteem crumble if he makes a mistake?

If so, then your child is suffering from yo-yo self-esteem -- self-esteem that rises and falls with the ups and downs of life.

How kids feel about themselves often depends on what is going on in their life – what is going on outside of them.

However, powerful self-esteem isn’t based on what is going on outside of you (what is happening in your life). Powerful self-esteem is based on what is going on inside of you -- who you are and how you think about yourself.

When kids base their self-esteem on “who they are” then their self-esteem can remain intact no matter what is going on in their lives.

So if your children have yo-yo self-esteem, how do you help them shift from external focus to internal focus?

Here are the first three of six tips for helping your kids develop solid self-esteem that doesn’t rise and fall with the ups and downs of life:

1. First talk with them about what self-esteem is. Teach them that self-esteem is based on who they are, not what they do.

2. Second, teach them how to separate the results of an event from who they are. For example, if they fail a test, that is just an event – something that happened. Just because they failed a test, doesn’t mean they are a failure. It just means they didn’t learn the material well enough to get the right answers on the majority of the questions – that’s it. Let your kids know that it’s OK to feel down; however, there is a difference between feeling down about a bad grade and feeling down on yourself because of a bad grade. Help your children understand this distinction and their self-esteem will flourish.

3. Third, teach them about the dangers of comparison. When kids compare themselves to others – seeing themselves as “better than” or “less than” another, they are looking externally to determine how to feel about themselves. This sets them up for yo-yo self-esteem because they will feel good about themselves whenever they see themselves as “better than” another and they will feel bad about themselves every time they see themselves as “less than” another. This not only devastates self-esteem, but also creates jealousy, resentment, and a belief system of “not good enough”.

Unfortunately self-esteem isn’t something you can give your kids; however, it is something you can teach them to develop in themselves. Start today by sharing these first three tips with them. In the next article we will cover the last three tips.


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Mary Kerwin, founder of Confident Families, is a wife, a mom to 4 grown children, a Teacher, a certified Integrative Holistic Coach, and an expert in helping kids and families to reach their full potential.

She lives in NYC, where she happily dotes on her first grandchild.

Copyright © 2011 Renaye Thornborrow, All rights reserved.

Reprinted with permission from Renaye Thornborrow.

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