Improving Self Esteem in Children and Teens

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The way children think about their experiences influences how they feel about themselves and the way they cope with challenges in life. Learn effective strategies to help build your child's self esteem and help prevent childhood/teen depression and anxiety.

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Improving Self Esteem in Children and Teens

  1. 1. Improving Self-Esteem In Children and Teens Angela Adamson, LCSW, ACT Behavioral Health & Cognitive Therapy Center
  2. 2. Agenda• What is Self-Esteem?• Why it is important• Statistics• Self-Esteem Movement• Cognitive Model• Explanatory Style• What can parents do?
  3. 3. What is self-esteem • Self-Acceptance  strengths and weaknesses  accuracy • Doing well Feeling good  Mastery of skills/strengths  Bonus side effectSeligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
  4. 4. Why is it important? If you have low self- esteem it can lead to: •Depression •Anxiety •Pervasive pessimism •Difficulty coping with stress •Anger •Reduced effortSeligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
  5. 5. Statistics • 10-15% of children have some symptoms of depression right now • 1/33 children have clinical depression • 1/8 adolescents have clinical depression • Since the 1960s depression has been significantly increasing. • 30 year old women 1940 vs. 1980Seligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.Chansky, Tamar (2008). Freeing Your Child From Negative Thinking. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.
  6. 6. Self-Esteem Movement •Last several decades •Individualism •Away from achievement and towards happiness and self-esteem Self Esteem Movement = “Protecting our children from bad feelings will improve self-esteem.”Seligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
  7. 7. Self-Esteem MovementRetrieved from, http://www.bernardgoldberg.com/the-presidency-should-not-be-a-participation-trophy/ on February 18, 2013
  8. 8. Self-Esteem MovementRetrieved from, http://www.votersopinion.com/?p=3679 on February 18, 2013
  9. 9. Self-Esteem MovementRetrieved from, http://nicoleabdou-destinationunknown.blogspot.com/2011/08/trophy-theory.html on February 18, 2013.
  10. 10. Self-Esteem Movement Self Esteem Movement = “Protecting our children from bad feelings will improve self-esteem.”Seligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
  11. 11. Self-Esteem Movement  Feeling good Doing well • Backwards!  Empty Praise  Inauthentic • We got it wrong!Seligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
  12. 12. Self-Esteem Movement “Parental Guidance” Cliphttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BzOH61eL24
  13. 13. The Cognitive Model Situation ThoughtFeeling Body Behavior Response
  14. 14. The Cognitive Model • Link between events and how we feel is a lot lower than previously thought.Image from www.pedigreedatabase.com
  15. 15. How we explain events to ourselves • This is called “Explanatory Style” • Think about where you fall on continuum/where your child falls?Seligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
  16. 16. Explanatory Style- Good Events Permanent TemporaryAcross situations One situation Self Others High Self Esteem: I am good at math so I got a good grade on the test (permanent). If I could do well on this test I know I can do well on my Bio exam (across situations). Good thing I put in those extra hours studying, it really paid off (self). Low Self-Esteem: I just got lucky on this math test (temporary). I am still going to fail my Bio exam (one situation). The teacher probably made this test easier (others).Seligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
  17. 17. Explanatory Style- Negative Events Permanent TemporaryAcross situations One situation Self Other High Self Esteem: I didn’t study hard enough for this math test (temporary). At least there are more tests , I’ll work harder and do better on those (one situation). My coach had us do extra practices so there was less time to study (other). Low Self-Esteem: I am never going to figure out math (permanent). I hate school, I am a horrible student (across situations). If I was smarter then my life would be so much better (self).Seligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
  18. 18. What can parents do?
  19. 19. What to Teach About Thoughts1. We constantly have thoughts2. Just because we think something doesn’t mean it’s true or not true • Example: Rainbow Striped Elephant
  20. 20. What to Teach About Thoughts3. We don’t always realize thoughts are going through our mind • Example: Tying a shoe4. Our thoughts lead to our feelings/actions • Example: Dog
  21. 21. How to Recognize Negative Thoughts• Goal: be more aware of thoughts as precursor to feelings.• Feelings are indicator of thoughts.• Identify thoughts once per day.
  22. 22. How to Recognize Negative Thoughts For children: •“Thought catching” game. • Positive, negative, neutral •“Negative Brain” Character. • Bad News Brain •Label • “It looks like Bad News Brain might be talking to you right now.”Seligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.Chansky, Tamar (2008). Freeing Your Child From Negative Thinking. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.
  23. 23. How to Recognize Negative ThoughtsFor teens:•Daily list of thoughts.•Code Words for “Negative Brain”•Listening • How are they explaining what happened to them?
  24. 24. How to Combat Negative Thoughts• Stand up for yourself!• Be skeptical.  Find the truth within the thought.• Repeat and practice!
  25. 25. How to Combat Negative Thoughts For children: •“Bossing Back” •Parental “bossing back”Chansky, Tamar (2008). Freeing Your Child From Negative Thinking. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.
  26. 26. “Bossing Back” • Mr. Mean Head, you aren’t the boss of me! • Mr. Mean Head, you’re tricking me again. • You never tell me the truth! • You lie to me, I know the truth is__________.Chansky, Tamar (2008). Freeing Your Child From Negative Thinking. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.
  27. 27. Parental “Bossing Back” • “That sounds like Mr. Mean Head again!” • “Woah, Mr. Mean Head is really bothering you today.” • “It’s not fair to you how much Mr. Mean Head is talking to you today.”Chansky, Tamar (2008). Freeing Your Child From Negative Thinking. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.
  28. 28. How to Combat Negative Thoughts For children: •High Five Activity •RhymesHuebner, D (2007). What to Do When You Grumble Too Much. Washington, DC: Magination Press
  29. 29. How to Combat Negative Thoughts For teens: •Evidence “for” and “against” thought. •What is the truth? •Coping StatementsFox, M & Sokol, L (2011). Think Confident, Be Confident, For Teens. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
  30. 30. Finding the TruthFinding more helpful thoughts...  “Even though….the truth is….”  “It may be true that…however…” • Even though I wasn’t invited to Jessica’s birthday party, it does not mean that I have no friends. I have been invited to a lot of other parties. I will invite Jill over from my dance class on that day and we will do something fun.
  31. 31. Intrinsic Goals• Intrinsic Goals such as building skill, relationships and being helpful improve self-esteem• Extrinsic Goals such as making money, improving image and popularity decrease self-esteem.
  32. 32. Intrinsic Goals• Encourage Relationships with peers  For Children: Help them set up play-dates, develop friendships with parents, be involved in classroom.  For teens: Let them go out with friends.
  33. 33. Intrinsic Goals • Find your child’s strengths and help them use them.  List of 24 basic strengths  Strength vs. skill  Find balance  Offer specific praise: “When you stopped playing to find out why Susie was crying you were so kind and loving.”Seligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
  34. 34. Intrinsic Goals 1. Gratitude  Says thank you without prompting.  Acknowledges good others do. • I loved how you wanted to send thank you cards to the firemen that helped clear the roads during Hurricane Sandy. You have gratitude. 2. Forgiveness  Not holding grudges.  Giving people second chances.Seligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
  35. 35. Autonomy• Avoid “helicopter parenting”• Allow your child/teen to make mistakes.• Trust them to make certain decisions, even if they are not the ones you would make (ie; when they should begin their homework)
  36. 36. Autonomy• Allow for self-direction vs. management when appropriate.• Teach the skill of self-management  Management: Did you put your soccer shoes, change of clothes and water bottle in your bag?  Self-Direction: Remember, you have practice today at 5:00.• Without independence, children/teens may develop a belief about themselves that they are inadequate or not capable.
  37. 37. How to Praise • Offer praise accurately. • Praise effort. • Avoid empty praises.  Offering empty praise too often can lead to difficulty for children to internally motivate themselves  Problems in “real world”Seligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
  38. 38. How to Praise • Empty Praise:  (After striking out at a baseball game) You did such a great job today! You are such a good baseball player! • Accurate Praise:  You put a lot of effort into the game today. I bet if you keep practicing the way you have been you’ll keep improving!Seligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
  39. 39. Criticize with Care • Be Accurate! • Avoid permanent and pervasive criticism  For example: “You never listen to anything I say, you’ll never amount to anything!” or “I will never trust you again.”Seligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
  40. 40. Criticize with Care• Strive for temporary and specific criticism  “I did not like that you called Susie ‘stupid’ today. I was surprised since you are typically such a supportive big sister. I expect you to work on that.”  “I felt really disappointed that you didn’t study more for your math exam. Next time I expect you’ll start sooner.”Seligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
  41. 41. When to Seek Help• Low mood most days for a month or more• Difficulty/Refusal with going to school/activities• Self-harm• Thoughts of suicide• If your child asks for help
  42. 42. Additional Information• The Optimistic Child by Martin Seligman• Freeing Your Child of Negative Thinking by Tamar Chansky• Think Confident, Be Confident For Teens by Marci Fox and Leslie Sokol• What to Do When you Grumble Too Much by Dawn Huebner• www.authentichappiness.com
  43. 43. Q and A
  44. 44. ReferencesChansky, Tamar (2008). Freeing Your Child From Negative Thinking. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.Fox, M & Sokol, L (2011). Think Confident, Be Confident, For Teens. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.Huebner, D (2007). What to Do When You Grumble Too Much. Washington, DC: Magination Press.Seligman, Martin (1995). The Optimistic Child. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

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