I have to admit, before yesterday I had not ever heard the term “esteemable act.” I was on a marathon driving stint to return robotics items from competition some four hours away, when an interview caught my attention. The interviewee used the term, and the proverbial “aha” light illuminated above my head! His point was that we have to do esteemable acts to gain self-esteem. That will preach.

     Are you allowing… nay, encouraging, your child to do esteemable acts? Or, are you one of growing population of parents who reward your child for expected behavior? Not sure? Let’s find out.

   You’re about to go into a department store with your children. You:

A.            Tell your children that, if they are good, you will get them a (fill in the blank) as you’re leaving.

B.            Tell your children you expect them to behave so the whole family can have fun.

C.           Watch your kids misbehave and yell at and threaten them.


    It’s report card time. Your kids made good grades because:

A.            You have offered money or prizes for good grades.

B.            You have made it clear that you believe they can do well if they apply themselves. You believe it so much that you invested in a private school.

C.           No matter what you seem to do, your kids don’t care about making good grades.


     If you chose C on either of these questions, it’s time for you to check out a book on parenting. Answer B Choosers, you are teaching your kids to do something esteemable. Therefore, your child is building self-esteem. Answer A-Choosers, while rewarding your kids for hard work is fine (everyone likes a bonus), teaching them to work FOR the reward (as opposed to “because it’s the right thing to do) is akin to training a seal with sardines. “Getting” is not an esteemable act, whether it be the trophy everyone gets or the candy reward at the end of good behavior.

    We’ve simply got to offer our kids chances to build esteem. That means they must know what is expected and choose to meet those expectations. If you’ve done a good job, you’ll be surprised how many times your kids actually surpass your expectations! I see this daily at school, so I know it works! Happy holidays!

-       Michelle