Eight Characteristics of the Effective Person

With increasing numbers of people being glued to their electronic devices, it is more important than ever that individuals focus on their interpersonal skills so that they can effectively interact with others when they do have a “real” encounter.

The importance of effective communication has been shown to be critical and has been researched over the years, with some qualities being shown to be particularly important. Based on a wealth of research, the following offers eight qualities which seem to be particularly important in developing successful relationships.


The ability to “get into the shoes” of another is probably the most important quality for building and maintaining healthy relationships. This selfless process builds trust by showing others that one is willing to place oneself second to the concerns of another and allows the listener to understand why others act the way they do. Those who are empathic are able to build strong, authentic, and lasting relationships.

Although all of us have the ability to be empathic, those who were brought up in nurturing relationships which fostered an understanding of others will have an easier time putting aside their agendas and be able to hear others. However, with effort, all of us can become better listeners.


Although we often don’t like to admit it, we almost always can tell when people are not being real with us. It’s demonstrated by the way they look at us, talk to us, and behave with us. And, when a person is not real with another, the relationship cannot grow and deepen. Only genuine, transparent relationships can have the depth and breathe that develop mutual sharing at deep levels. Realness takes intentionality—a concerted effort at being genuine with the other person. Such conversations are often not easy, but they bring an intensity and honesty to relationships that are a cornerstone of positive mental health.


Humans develop intricate webs of reality that make sense to them, but not always to others who observe their behaviors. Acceptance is acknowledging the fact that one may not understand the thoughts and behaviors of another, yet knowing that within the other person’s world, his or her thoughts and actions make sense. This knowledge allows one to be empathic and nonjudgmental, despite sometimes disagreeing with what others have done. Such acceptance builds strong, lasting relationships that can develop into mutually empathic and real relationships.

Cross-Cultural Sensitivity.

When individuals have regard for others and are empathic with others, they are naturally cross-culturally sensitive. But cross-cultural sensitivity goes beyond empathy and acceptance, as it also means actively wanting to know about the culture of others. The gaining of such knowledge, whether by asking others about their cultures or discovering about others’ cultures through various resources, allows one to understand individuals more fully. This deeper understanding of another acknowledges an individual’s unique way of living in the world and how that way is associated with the individual’s unique and vibrant culture.


Being good at something, whatever it is, helps us feel good about ourselves and builds our self-esteem. Whether it’s academics, sports, cooking, or an obscure hobby, feeling competent helps us believe in ourselves and generally results in a constructive attitude toward life and others. Each of us has unique abilities and qualities, and understanding how those can be used to build self-efficacy is critical if we are going to feel good about ourselves and positively impact others.

Embracing Our Spirituality or Meaningfulness.

Why are we here? What is the meaning of our existence? Why do we do what we do in the world? If we live without a sense of our spirituality or meaningfulness, we will haphazardly live in the world as we have no reason or philosophy that drives us. Lack of a core meaning-making system results in narcissistic and selfish recklessness as individuals make decisions without reflecting on their core philosophical assumptions. Beliefs that drive a positive personal meaning making system, whether religiously-based or founded on some well-thought out philosophy, are always rooted in the Golden Rule—Do unto others as you might want others to do unto you.

Knowing Our “It Factor”—Being Ourselves.

Each of us has a unique way of thinking, acting, and being in the world, but not all of us readily embrace our individuality. Being ourselves means that we are willing to take risks with others—say what we really think, act like we really want to act, and be who we really are. Of course, in a civilized world we cannot do everything we think, feel, and want to do, but we can acknowledge to ourselves all aspects of self, and, in healthy ways, strive to fully be ourselves.

Social Sense.

Because our existence relies on living with civility in what can sometimes be a pretty chaotic world, it is important that each of us understand, be aware, and act in ways that are sensitive to others and the communities in which we live. This manner of co-existence allows us to live with a sense of safety and love as we strive to be ourselves while simultaneously acknowledging and monitoring how we impact others. Like the ripples in a lake that follow after a stone is thrown into it, a social sense means that we have a keen awareness that each action we take affects all others.

These eight characteristics seem to be critical in developing strong, effective relationships—whether it be with a friend, significant other, or colleague. However, one should keep in mind that relationships take work and knowing these qualities will do little if one does not practice them.

Most importantly, each of us should be intentionally empathic, real, accepting, cross-culturally sensitive, competent, have a sense of meaning, embrace our “it factor, and have a social sense if we are to get along with others and have a more peaceful and loving world.

How Social Media Can Impact Your Self Esteem

Mood emojis

Since social media began with the launch of MySpace (and even the blogosphere and forums before it), people’s real world minds and moods have been affected by what they see online. We now have a constant flow of information and opportunities for attention from others, and the need is often dominant in our thoughts, preventing us from fully paying attention to either the situation or ourselves.

Have you felt a meta-commentary running through your mind of “how will people perceive this on Facebook?” or “How can I make an amazing photo about this?” Does viewing other people’s profiles make you feel a sense of pride in those around you or envy about a series of selected accomplishments? Perhaps the simplest question is, does looking at social media make you feel better or worse about yourself?

Let’s take a brief look at some of the ways social media might be affecting your self-esteem.

You Are Being Impacted Through Social Comparison

Social comparison existed before social media, but it was only limited to the people you met in person and your neighbors, and you could make a much more detailed judgment about these individuals.  One could see or hear flaws and struggles, as well as triumphs, making social comparison a more acceptable (albeit still unhealthy) practice.

Think about the pictures you see and your thoughts surrounding them. Everyone else seems to be doing something interesting, and most people don’t realize that for every person they see posting vacation photos, there are a hundred people who aren’t. This leads to unsafe comparisons.

Image Crafting Is an Unseen Art

When you look at a news feed or a social media page, people don’t realize they’re not seeing everything. Even the more negative matters are portrayed through a lens of sarcasm and usually fall into the category of life’s daily problems. Yet things such as self-doubt, emotional issues, and traumatic experiences are usually not talked about at anything more than a surface level. People will talk more extensively about a new relationship or an amazing vacation as opposed to a break-up or a period of personal uncertainty.

People, in their efforts to garner attention and a positive representation, will put their best online foot forward. They want to look impressive. They will spend time (or waste time, depending on how one looks at it) to receive a boost to their self-esteem. Much like how photos of models are airbrushed, profiles are similarly sculpted.

Constant Tracking Can Have Adverse Effects

Some of us might feel like we are never separated from our technology or our need to update others of our lives. Our actions are constantly being watched and tracked by our devices and friends, and that can impose an otherwise unwanted burden on us, making our failures all the more difficult and raising suspicions in others. Corporations might also use social media to market to us, trying to take advantage of weaknesses we might see in ourselves.

While you can prevent some of the more technical aspects of tracking your location by using a VPN or a proxy, you will also want to be careful about what you share online. People can’t judge you (nor should they) about what you do or don’t put up, and it’s your right to share as much or as little of your life as you wish.

Cyberbullying and Negative Commentary

While it often happens in younger circles and on some platforms more than others, the effects of cyberbullying are well-known and can have long-term, adverse effects on an individual’s self-esteem. The constant negative commentary that occurs on these sites can also affect one’s mind, even when the commentary isn’t directed at the reader. Given the current setup on the internet, most cyberbullying happens on social media platforms, and people need to be prepared for this.

If you know you are being cyberbullied or have someone under your care is, take immediate action to block them, and, if the severity of the situation calls for it, contact the authorities. People’s self-esteem is not worth second chances in these cases; the situation can be avoided.

An Emphasis on Connection Can Be Helpful

One of the things that can help our sense of self-esteem is the feeling we have a legitimate and emotional connection to the people in our lives that we care about. Social media, and the internet in general, has allowed us to maintain these connections more easily. While cyberbullying and a constant stream of abusive messages create problems, being able to contact a support network and understand that there are people to confide in is likely to be helpful. Exposure to empathetic individuals and other people who are otherwise hard to reach will also be useful.

It would be best if instead of focus on comparing yourself to people you barely know to try and make these more “real” connections even stronger. You can control who you follow on social media. While you shouldn’t place yourself in a bubble, you don’t need to consistently subject yourself to material that makes you feel poorly about yourself.

How do you use social media? Do you think there is a solid middle ground that lets people utilize social media without adverse effects? Do you see other people changing based on other people’s actions on social media? Please leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts.

Finding Safe Spaces To Be Yourself

James Gavsie and his son Rex at Wondercon

I had been delaying the inevitable. As a self defined (and proud) comic book nerd, I knew that going to a comic book convention was something beyond what I simply wanted to do; it was something I HAD to do! It’s the combination of a pilgrimage as and a rite of passage. Living in Los Angeles provides ample opportunities to attend conventions either within the city or a short drive outside of it.

When I was younger, being a big fan of comic books and all things related wasn’t something to share with others. Bullying was rampant, and nothing made you an easier target than outwardly displaying the preference for your favorite superhero. The last thing I wanted was for my son to be targeted for the same thing. I still have very clear memories of being bullied, physically and verbally, for liking all things comic book related. It made me isolate myself and think of myself as weird, which didn’t help my self-esteem. The effects of bullying last into adulthood. I still have strong childhood memories of being bullied in a variety of ways for wearing that Batman shirt.

Fast forward to 2017 and I quickly realized that times have indeed changed.

With my oldest son, Rex, now starting to share my passion for comic books, fantasy/sci-fi related films and TV shows, I decided now was the time to finally attend a convention.  After a very brief conversation with him about which convention to attend my son ran to my wife and said ‘Mom, we’re going to Wondercon!’

He was beyond excited. We quickly jumped on Amazon’s website and ordered a Deadpool shirt and baseball cap, which would be his official Wondercon uniform.  His exuberance was contagious as we settled on a date to attend the convention.

Still, as someone who has made part of their career center around anti-bullying I decided to remain vigilant at Wondercon…just in case bullying reared its ugly head.

After parking our car at the Anaheim convention center my son and I got our press passes and started to walk the floor. I noticed something right away once we got inside the main building; people were smiling. Not just the attendees mind you, but also the people who worked there. To say there was a positive vibe would be a huge understatement. On top of that, my son started to get compliments on his shirt and baseball hat. He was feeling it.

I had previously explained the etiquette of cosplay picture taking to my son and he wasted no time in asking people for pictures. This was the first day of the convention so the costumes were out in full effect. Regardless of the effort put into the cosplay everybody that my son asked for a picture happily obliged. In fact, they didn’t just oblige as much as they went out of their way to make sure my son got the picture he wanted. My first impression of Wondercon was great.

We attended a couple of panels and decided to walk the convention floor. The vendors were out in full force and the booths were beyond majestic. Being a technology nutcase, my son stopped at one particular booth that featured high-powered laptops. Clearly they were looking to network and sell their wares, but my son wanted to talk to these vendors about their computers. I told him to go ahead and talk to them but to keep in mind that they are trying to sell machines so to be respectful of their time.  To my surprise they spent 20 minutes with him telling him everything he wanted to know. They made him feel comfortable and important. I took one of their cards as we said our goodbyes.

Rex was smiling ear to ear because he was in his environment. While Rex was taking in Wondercon, I was simultaneously taking in everything else. How was the mood of everyone there? Are people happy? Are they in a panic to sell art, comic books, swords, to the public? I was taking in the general mood and, so far, had detected nothing but happy people who were genuinely excited to be at Wondercon. Still, I stayed somewhat vigilant in case I witnessed some bullying and needed to ‘intervene’, something I love to do.

I encouraged my son to go and talk to the vendors to buy a poster he wanted while I hung out in the background as he handled the transaction. As a kid I remember never having the confidence to directly interact with adults. I was very happy to see my son had no such issues. But something else caught my eye. The adults at the booth we’re engaging in a lively conversation with Rex. It was a back and forth dialog that was very lively. They knew the importance of treating people, especially kids, with respect. It had a hugely positive effect on Rex.

I was also taking full advantage of the networking opportunities and had arranged for a couple of meetings during the day. Our last meeting was with an amazing group of people who produced the ‘Blacker Than Black Infinity’ podcast (twitter: @BThanBTI ) and YouTube show. The moment we met they treated me and my son like gold. We talked a little business and they made sure to include him in on the conversation. Rex even brought up some good points in our discussions. He felt comfortable to engage with the group because the group made him realize that he was valued. That’s a key point in building self-esteem, an important aspect in fighting back against bullying.

A comic book convention may not be your safe haven, but you can still use tools like meetup.com and eventbrite to find events and like minded individuals for you to network and be yourself with.

Self-Compassion And Self-Care: Being As Kind To Yourself As You Are To Other People


Modern life is stressful – so stressful! Between work, study, maintaining relationships, family obligations, childcare, paying bills, cooking meals, organising a household, taking care of pets, exercising, volunteering, socialising…it’s not surprising how little time we can spend thinking of nice things to do for ourselves!

Self-care can mean a huge range of things to different people.  I’ve talked before about how to make self-care work for you, basically by doing the things you like and find restorative (and not just ticking off a huge list of things that are “supposed” to be good for you, but that you may not actually get much out of).  

As a person who has a habit of setting super high standards and being really hard on myself, this year I’ve been trying to focus more on my “psychological” self-care.  That means doing things like going easy on myself, not overworking, not overcommitting, keeping my boundaries, taking regular “nothing time” and forgiving myself if I don’t get it right all the time too.

I saw a great TEDx talk recently by Dr. Kristin Neff, a researcher on authenticity, self-concept, and self-compassion and a practicing Buddhist to boot.

Neff talks about how hard we can find it to be compassionate to ourselves, even when we might be very good at extending compassion to others.  She notes how many people tend to use the “stick” rather than the “carrot” to try and motivate themselves to achieve more.  That is, they beat themselves up for not getting things done, rather than providing an incentive to reward themselves when they do.  Curiously, her research shows that, in fact, those who are more kind and forgiving towards themselves when they do fail tend to feel more motivated and get more done in the long run.

So what does it mean to be self-compassionate?  And why on earth is it so hard to do?  Neff says on her website, “Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?”

Of course, this doesn’t mean slacking off all the time, never doing things you intend to, and then being okay with it! Neff is clear that self-compassion is not self-pity or self-indulgence.  Rather it is about doing things because you care about yourself and want to make changes in your life that allow you to be healthy and happy and not just because someone else tells you to.

It sounds so simple, but how easy it is really?  I think it’s so much harder to consistently treat yourself in a way that is kind and forgiving, especially if you have a lifetime of practice at beating yourself up about things instead.  It seems much easier to just tick a few things off your “self-care plan” and consider it done unless you don’t get it done, then you get to feel bad about that too.

I think self-compassion is both an attitude towards yourself as well as a skill that you can learn. I’ve certainly found I’ve got better at it with practice and patience.  A lot of self-compassion websites suggest cultivating self-compassion through mindful meditation exercises, and Neff has some great examples on her website if you’re interested to give them a go.  I’ve found some of them useful when I’m really struggling to be kind to myself.

For me though, “pulling myself up” on my self-criticism works really well too.  For example, whenever I notice that I’m self-criticising or thinking about something I should have done better or managed differently, I ask myself, “Would I ever say something that harsh to a friend or a client?”  If the answer is “no”, then I imagine a little script that I would say to someone else. The result is something a little kinder and more understanding with a commitment to learn and try something different next time – and forgiveness if I don’t get it right even then.

I’ve noticed that doing this repeatedly does make me feel a little better about my perceived failings and mistakes which I’m also sure are not as big a deal to other people as they are to me. The trick of course is first to notice those thoughts in order to begin a process to address them.

So what do you think?  Are you into the idea of self-compassion as part of your self-care?

Bullying – A Dirty Word


Bullying is a ‘dirty word’ nowadays. Dirty are the people who use bullying to control you to please themselves because of their own lack of self-worth. Dirty are the actual words and/or the actions the bullies dish out. Worse yet, dirty is how they make victims feel. It’s time to clean up the act.

Whether you are a bully or the poor soul who’s been attacked or abused by one, you can do something to help with the cleanup. Yes, anyone can so why not you and I. It may be in the school ground, on social media, at work or even your own home, but there is never a better time to act than the present.

Bullying is a physical or verbal and emotional assault on another person that is repeated over time. The victim is usually a soft spoken or timid individual as they are easy targets. I say, emotional assault for good reason because no matter whether an attacker is calling someone names or physically harming them – both types of abuse causes emotional harm.

All victims of significant bullying find themselves with low self-esteem or self-worth. This is the aim of the bully. Why? Because he’s self-esteem is low too and he doesn’t know how to better himself in practical, useful ways, so s/he takes it out on others to bring them down to their level – all under the cover of an all high and mighty mask though of course. They’re usually the last ones to admit their own mistakes.

Many bullies have been victims of it themselves in the past and rather than believing they are undeserving and better than that, some go onto becoming bullies themselves to cover up their own pain. They try to cover it up with a false sense of macho-ness.

It’s time to clean up our act…. it  starts with bullies, victims or mates of bullies and victims – so no matter who you are – you can help take part and do your bit.

If you are a bully yourself and you’ve just owned up to the fact, in your own mind at least, then thank you – thank you for being honest and taking the first step to cleaning up the mess.

If you’ve been a bully or still are being bullied, well guess what? – no more! If you’re a mate of either a bully or a victim – it’s also time for you to act.

It can start today, right now. How you ask? Well, if the reason behind bullying is low self-worth (which I believe it is), then it’s time to build up your self-esteem and appreciate who you are, what you stand for and how you deserve to be treated.

Even if you believe you’re a bully because you witnessed your parents fighting with each other, or with yourself for that matter, it still comes down to low self-worth as a result of the violence. If you are willing to take a good, hard look at yourself you will be cleansed in no time.

Activist Group Fights Against Plastic Surgery App for Children

Just when parents thought they only had to monitor their children’s internet activity, turns out  it’s not the only thing that needs supervision. Recently, a new application went public recently, and surprisingly it was an iTunes application that allows children to perform “nip tuck” operations.  Starting with kids ages 9 and up, they were able to perform liposuction on a virtual woman who is bandaged up and then revealed in a before-and-after picture.

Fortunately, after a Twitter campaign started by the women’s rights group Everyday Sexism, iTunes removed the product from its App Store this week. But that does not solve the problem, there could be other games in the making or that are already out.

The now deleted application read, “This unfortunate girl has so much extra weight that no diet can help her. In our clinic she can go through a surgery called liposuction that will make her slim and beautiful. We’ll need to make small cuts on problem areas and suck out the extra fat. Will you operate her [sic], doctor?”

bandHow could an application like this even be created to send such a damaging message? The problem is that we as a society are not teaching young ladies of all shapes, sizes, and physical features to love themselves. With the pressure of having to feel like you have to be a certain weight, size, or even color, it is inevitable for females to experience some type of self-hate or feel the need to change something on their bodies at least once in their life. 

As a plus size female who has struggled with self-image and my own personal weight throughout my life, I can relate. It is immensely challenging to live in a world that mostly sees beautiful as being thin. There is also this elegance that the media places on plastic surgery results, but they do not show the harsh realities of the plastic surgeries that have gone bad or the grueling pain of the healing process afterwards.

According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery,

  •  Any cut made on the skin is likely to leave a scar.
  • Although steps are taken to reduce the risk of infection, there is always a chance that infection at the site of the incision can occur.
  • Excessive bleeding can occur while a wound is open, and occasionally a blood transfusion may be required.
  • Blood clots may spring up following extended periods of surgery, although walking and movement following surgery usually help to remove the risk.
  • The healing process can take months.

Plastic surgery can be scary, but a society that does not promote self-love and self-esteem can be even more damaging to our children who are most important and the future leaders of the world.

Stand Up and Speak Out: No Bullying Allowed

In recent news, a Florida teen was cleared of a felony charge of third-degree aggravated assault stalking  from bullying that led to the suicide of a 12-year-old girl in September. Rebecca Ann Sedwick had been ‘absolutely terrorized’ by the other girls before she climbed a tower at an abandoned concrete plant and hurled herself to her death. The bullying apparently started over a ‘boyfriend issue’ at Crystal Lake Middle School.

Katelyn one of the girls accused stated, “No, I do not feel l did anything wrong.”Katelyn and a 14-year-old girl were charged last month after Polk County (Fla.) Sheriff Grady Judd saw a derogatory post on Facebook that he claims was written by one of them. The Facebook post said, “Yes ik [I know] I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself but IDGAF [I don’t give a f—].”

Bullying is becoming a huge problem in today’s society.

  • Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.
  • More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats online
  • 1 in 7 students in grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying.
  • 56 percent of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school.
  • Over two-thirds of students believe that schools respond poorly to bullying, with a high percentage of students believing that adult help is infrequent and ineffective.

What can we do?

No_BullyingTeaching kids and teens that bullying is not cool is one of the first steps we can make in educating our youth. As adults, we should model the behavior we want our children to exhibit as well as encouraging them to report if they see bullying happening. By encouraging them to speak up, it recognizes that not saying anything is just as bad as participating.

Bullies are often victims of abuse themselves or are lashing out because of  low self-esteem and other personal issues in order to make themselves feel better. Bullies can also be the”popular” kids or teens that are liked by many of their peers and teachers. No matter who it is it should not be tolerated. Joking with your friends is one thing, but teasing someone to the point where they’re afraid to attend school, ride the bus etc is unacceptable.

Teachers should also take bullying serious and intervene when possible. Managing their classrooms, investigating and knowing their students, recognizing relationships between their students, creating rules that allow victims to confide in and trust them are all major steps in confronting this epidemic.

As hard as it may be, I think encouraging victims to speak up for themselves and tell someone they trust about the bullying is necessary to begin addressing the root of the problem. One of the most important things a person should demonstrate is respect for themselves and others. Identifying ways to increase self-esteem is the first line of defense against bullying which results into lower self worth and inferiority.

Early years are an important time for parents, teachers and other forces in the child’s life to enlighten them on how to relate with their peers. If we start there, I think we can make a difference.

Self-esteem vs. Other-esteem

I’ve been doing some reading on self-esteem lately, particularly how it relates to codependency. According to Pia Mellody, people with codependency tend to have “other-esteem”, not self-esteem. Other-esteem happens when we base our self-worth on external things. This could mean the type of job you have, the kind of car you drive, if your spouse is successful, or if you perform well at a particular task.

beingThe trouble with other-esteem is that it is fragile. For example, if you base your self-worth on your job, car, or ability to play basketball, then what happens if your company downsizes, your car breaks down, or you have an injury?  Often what happens is your world comes tumbling down which is likely to bring on feelings of worthlessness and helplessness.

People who rely on other-esteem are more likely to feel bad about themselves if someone has a conflict with them or if they can’t achieve at a task. They might feel shame or embarrassment if their spouse drives a beat up car or chooses to wear an outrageous outfit in public. They may become depressed if they lose their job due to a disability. In general, having other-esteem makes a person less resilient and less likely to “bounce back” after life throws them an unexpected blow.

Self-esteem, in contrast, deals with your innate worth that you are born with and is not dependent on what you do or achieve. If we have good self-esteem, we feel that we are fundamentally good and valuable, with or without all those external things. A good, worthy person does not need to “do”, they can simply just “be”.

Four Tips To Building Self Esteem In Children

Parents want their child to have good self esteem. However, self-esteem doesn’t come naturally to children. It is something that must be fostered, developed, nurtured and grown. Following these four tips can help.

1.  Show them you value them
Let your children know you love them.  This is done through praise and through direct expressions of love, hugs, and kisses. Children need to be told directly by their parents or caregiver that they are loved. Children need to be held, cuddled, and played with. Quality and quantity of time demonstrate valuing. Few things speak more to being valued, then just being there.

2.  Teach them and let them learn
Competency is the next ingredient to healthy self esteem. As the child grows and begins exploring the house (often the kitchen cupboards) the child gains the opportunity to increase competency with access and control of larger objects over greater spaces.  Again the response of the parent is crucial.  Some parents structure the child’s environment for maximum exploration while other parents localize their child’s area of living.  Either way, making way for the child to play and explore safely, whatever the limits, is often referred to as “baby proofing”. The greater the control and mastery of skills a child develops the greater the sense of competency which is the second ingredient to healthy self esteem.

Parents can facilitate competency by providing safe areas for children to develop skills and by allowing their children to participate in household activities such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, making beds, etc.  The goal of these activities is for the child to develop a sense of control and not the perfectionist pursuit of the best made bed, etc. Participation should be fun, supportive or helpful.

3.  Participate in doing good deeds
The third thing parents can do to facilitate healthy self esteem in their children is to direct and participate with their children in the doing of good deeds.  Doing good deeds teaches children to be aware of the life of others beyond themselves.  This enables the development of empathy and altruistic behaviour.  What’s important is that children are encouraged or even positioned to be helpful to the extent of their ability.  The little one may carry a plastic cup to the table, the middle one a plate and a spoon, while the big one can clear.  Special little projects can be undertaken, visits can be made, and pennies can be put in the charity coin boxes at the check-out counter.

4.  Make the rules of life clear
The last thing parents can provide to facilitate self-esteem in their children is structure.  Structure is a word that actually implies two separate concepts: routines and limits.  Routines provide structure over time and limits provide structure over behaviour.

Another way to think of structure is like the rules of a game. How well could you play Monopoly, Hop Scotch, Tag, or Hide and Go Seek, if there weren’t rules?  Rules include who goes next, under which circumstances, and when.  The rules also include what happens when someone goes outside the normal bounds of play – miss a turn, pay a fine, etc.

Knowing the rules of the game of life is sometimes referred to as internalising structure.  This too is also a form of competency – when the child knows the how’s, what’s, when’s, and where’s, of life. Unfortunately this information doesn’t come automatically.  Children may pick some of the rules up incidentally as they go along, but this leaves much to chance.  Parents can help their children internalise structure by commenting on daily routines, specifying appropriate behaviour, providing feedback and by providing consequences for undesirable behaviour.

These four ingredients, valuing, competency, good deeds, and structure form the basic building blocks for the development of self esteem.  And why develop self-esteem in children? Children with a healthy self-esteem feel good about themselves, relate well to others, behave more appropriately and are more aware of the world around them.

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