In part 1 & 2 of this series of posts, I discussed how mentoring and teaching our children is probably the most important thing we can do for supporting sustainability and there was a discussion on being a role model. This piece is related to helping in developing a healthy level of self-esteem in our youth.
You may feel or have heard that one of the drivers for entitlement is that we put too much effort in promoting self-esteem in our youth. I do not believe this is the case. Let us take a quick look at the definition of self-esteem.
Self-Esteem – Confidence in one’s worth and abilities.
In todays world we have hyper-integration of our society that is causing more exposure to people with different beliefs. These different beliefs may, to various degrees, be offensive and we need people who are confident enough in their own beliefs that they do not mind being exposed to different ones.
I believe where the confusion over the development of self-esteem comes up is that some believe that to build it up, we cannot be critical of any of our youth’s activities. That they must be praised and rewarded regardless of the effort level they put in or if they succeed or not. That if they fail, their self-esteem will be lowered. This treatment, in my opinion, only builds up the youth’s ego and strengthen their sense of entitlement.
Life is tough, and we need to prepare our youth for this. We need to let our youth work on age appropriate problems, make choices, take risks, and allow them to fail. Praise should be given for success, not for the attempt. This does not mean we are to be mean, cold, or callous. Our youth should never have to question our love for them.
As your children get older, they will become exposed to other influences on their sense of entitlement with the primary one being the education system. Some policies from schools, school boards, and various levels of government seem, in my opinion, do not build up self-esteem, but rather build up egos, the exact opposite of our youth need. You still can have influence here, but it will require diligence on your part.
The next part in this series will talk about setting expectations that things need to be earned, how to mentor traits of humility, along with suggestions on actions that you can do with the youth in your life for all of these topics.
If you found this interesting, you may want to take a look at my new non-fiction book “Feasible Planet – A guide to more sustainable living” (it is even available in the Kindle Unlimited Program) or my eco-fiction series “Percipience“. The electronic version of the first book in this series, “2022“, is permafree.