robert lindsay

Robert Lindsay, MSW, LCSW is a licensed family practitioner who specializes in mental health talk therapy. For over 23 years, Robert has been working with "at-risk" children, adolescents and their families. Robert serves as the Director of Clinical Operations of a mental health non-profit. He also consults with physicians in the local Emergency Department on patients, who are experiencing acute mental health crises. Robert is an author, columnist, consultant and speaker. Robert is the author of the new book, Rise Up.

Parents often ask me, “My child’s self-esteem seems so low. What can I do?” I always follow up with, “Tell me how you’ve been investing in the development of your child’s self-confidence?”

 

The response or lack of tells me a lot. There is a difference between the pop culture in vogue love affair with the term “self-esteem” and the reality of developing self-confidence.

 

Self-esteem does not exist. Building self-confidence does exist. How are you, as parent, investing in this process? Look at you conversations with your child. Do you focus more on what he or she does well or where they fail?

 

If you are like most of us, you highlight where they mess up, rather than do sincere cart wheels over what they did well. So how do you address the mess ups?

 

We build up our confidence, courage, essentially our overall ability to navigate this world by “doing.” If we “do” well we tend to “do” more of what is working well.

 

If we fail we tend to want to stop “doing” that which we fail. Letting our children off the hook for failing is rescuing them from this process. We must learn to persevere and this trait starts in us as children.

 

Parents also interrupt this process through their interactions with their children when the child fails, don’t try as hard as the parent wants or encounters limitations that the parent just doesn’t accept.

 

While it is great to have high standards and challenge your child to aim high and go for the brass ring it is your role as parent to teach them the skills to reach the goal.

 

If your interaction with your child is always focused on the negative or what they did wrong and less is on what is right, would you want to be coached by this person?

 

Each time you interact with your child you make an emotional investment into their psyche. They don’t always believe in themselves. They depend on your belief in them to get them through until they experience success and your voice is replaced by their voice.

 

In the scripture Jesus declares seeing Him is the same as seeing the Father. The apostle Paul encourages the church of Corinth to follow him as he follows Christ.

 

Just as God does with us, we want our child to follow us, to imitate us, to have the experience of their mommy and daddy believing in them playing in their head when challenges present.