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COOPERATIVE EXTENSION                                                                                                                         AZ1041



                                                                                            Healthy Self Esteem
                                                                                                           For Young Children
 The University of Arizona • College of Agriculture • Tucson, Arizona 85721                                                                        7/98

                                        Working with the Young Child: Ages 4 - 8
JANET PAZ
Pima County                                                                                   “I’m such a smart
                                                                                         boy.”
LISA LAUXMAN                                                                                  “This math is easy.”
Pima County                                                                                   “I learn fast.”
                                                                                              “I like to read.”
     Healthy self-esteem is something parents and caregivers                                  Experiences of fail-
think about and hear about. They probably hope that they                                 ure for the thinking self
are doing all the right things to help build a healthy self-                             produce these kinds of
esteem for their children.                                                               statements:
     Self-esteem is what we believe to be true about ourselves                                “I’m so dumb.”
and what we are capable of doing. According to one                                            “Why can’t I learn like everyone else?”
authority (Branden, 1987), self-esteem has two components:                                    “I hate school; it’s too hard.”
a feeling of personal competence, which allows us to cope                                     “I don’t want to read again.”
with life’s challenges, and a feeling of personal worth or self-
respect which encourages us to stand up for our interests                                Social Self …involves a child’s relationships with oth-
and needs. In other words, self-esteem is the sum of self-                               ers—family members, classmates, peers, acquaintances,
confidence and self-respect. It reflects your judgment of your                           and so on. A child who feels good about his or her social
ability to cope with the challenges of your life (to understand                          experiences might say:
and master your problems) and of your right to be happy (to                                    “I like being with my family.”
respect and stand up for your interests and needs).                                            “I sure have a lot of good friends.”
     A healthy self-esteem is important because it provides                                    A child whose social self is having negative
the foundation for our ability to respond actively and posi-                             experiencesmight say:
tively to the opportunities of life—in work, in love, and in                                   “Why do I have to go to school? Nobody likes me.”
play. One of the greatest gifts an adult can give a child is                                   “There’s never anyone to play with.”
helping that child build and maintain a healthy self-esteem.                                   Positive experiences in each of the self image compo-
                                                                                         nents enhance a child’s total self-image; negative experi-
The Components of Self-Esteem                                                            ences diminish it.
     As a child grows and has more experiences, his or her                                     Children’s general feelings of self-worth are closely
inner picture of self expands. Experiences of the “physical                              related to feelings of social competence and their feelings of
self,” the “thinking self,” and the “social self” all help mold                          physical competence.
the child’s self-image.                                                                        So, how do children gain competence? Studies of fami-
                                                                                         lies found certain factors are important in raising competent
Physical Self …involves the appearance and perfor-                                       children.
mance of a child’s body. A child with successful physical-                                     Families of competent children:
self experiences might make comments like these:                                              •     care about each other.
     “I have such nice printing.”                                                             •     reach out to each other.
     “I’m getting to be so good at jumping rope.”
     A child having unsuccessful physical experiences might                                   •     reach out with the expectation that this
say:                                                                                                interaction will be positive.
     “I don’t want to take my coat off.”                                                      •     love and respect each other but each is free to
     “I’m too ugly.”                                                                                be open and honest.
                                                                                              •     value individual differences and consider
Thinking Self …involves what a child knows—the basic                                                many options for solving problems.
concepts in reading, writing, and math taught in school
                                                                                              •     are involved in community activities.
each day. Positive thinking self-image will produce state-
ments like these:
  Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, James
A. Christenson, Director, Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona.
  The University of Arizona College of Agriculture is an equal opportunity employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other
services to individuals and institutions that function without regard to sex, race, religion, color, national origin, age, Vietnam Era Veteran's status, or disability.
                                                                                1
•    have parents who respect each other as
         individuals and present models of leadership                   Resources:
         to children.
                                                                        Borba, Michelle and Craig, Self-Esteem. A Classroom
    •    have parents who negotiate problems when
                                                                           Affair, Vol. 2, Harper-Collins Publishers; 1982.
         they arise.
    •    have a clear power structure.                                  Brooks, Jane B., The Process of Parenting. Mayfield Pub-
    •    have family members who are encouraged to                         lishing Co., 1991.
         be individuals and who accept responsibility
         for their actions.                                             “Working with the Young Child: Ages 4–8” is a series of six
    •    have an understanding of each other and                        bulletins authored by Arizona Cooperative Extension Family
         communicate feelings and ideas.                                Task Force members. The bulletins cover the same major topics
                                                                        found in “Understanding Youth: Working with the Early Ado-
                                                                        lescent” curriculum, but address younger children.
These factors help develop competent children.




                                      SELF-ESTEEM ENHANCING ACTIVITIES…
                                             For Parents and Children
     Parents have a wonderful challenge and an opportu-                      Puppets (dolls or stuffed animals) are used to create
nity to provide role models for their children as they help             situations. Have the puppets “break” a few rules you choose
them “grow” self-esteem. A positive self-concept is encour-             as important. For instance, hit each other, run, scream, and
aged when children feel they are competent and have the                 throw toys. Also, have puppets demonstrate the acceptable
ability to do many things well. Preschool children learn                behavior. For instance, share a toy, read, play quietly with
through being active and learning about how they feel about             a friend, and show empathy for a hurt friend. Mix up
their successes.                                                        positive and negative examples.
     New skills can enhance their self-esteem. Parents en-                   Explain that some of the puppets acted in a way that
hance a child’s positive self-esteem when they provide                  made it easy for them to get along with others and have a
positive support about their efforts. We’ve all heard the               good time. Some of the puppets created problems.
phrase “I love you But...” and invariably parents can’t resist               Have them go through the examples shared and give a
following a compliment with a helpful suggestion for doing              “thumbs up” for those behaviors that you think help them
even better. If what you truly want is to encourage your                get along with others and a “thumbs down” for those
children and build their sense of worth and belonging,                  behaviors that might cause problems. Ask the child(ren)
then let your smiles, thanks, and appreciations stand                   why certain behaviors are “thumbs up” or “thumbs down;”
alone. Remember, for preschoolers the process is most im-               what are some ways to stop the “thumbs down” behaviors.
portant, not the finished product.                                      This leads to discussions of self-responsibility or personal
     Parents can teach self-esteem with some of the follow-             power.
ing fun activities taken from the DARE to be You Preschool
Activity Guide. (DARE to be You Program, Colorado State                 MY WINGS GROW POWERFUL
University Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Develop-
ment).                                                                       Let’s talk about power. What is power? Do you think children
                                                                        have any power? Have you ever felt powerful? Does personal
SUCCESS SHARING                                                         power have anything to do with how tall you are or how big your
                                                                        muscles are? Everyone has personal power no matter what their
     Sit in a circle or one on one with your child. Roll the ball       size. Personal power is our power to decide to do something or not
to the child and have them say their name and say one thing             to do it. Who do you think of when you think of a powerful person?
about themselves, i.e. favorite color, book, toy, or something               Children may bring up powerful contemporary figure
they learned to do. Help them to focus on something they like           like Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, etc. Help to point out to
about themselves or something they learned to do that day.              them that the character’s real power is its compassion--
                                                                        helping people in trouble.
THUMBS UP, THUMBS DOWN                                                       Tell or read the story, "Goldie Locks and the Three
                                                                        Bears." What about “Goldie Locks and the Three Bears”? Does
   Children are able to develop and model rules for con-                Goldie Locks use her personal power in a bad way or a good way?
duct and choose behaviors they think are appropriate.                   What could Goldie Locks do to use her personal power in a good
                                                                        way?

                                                                    2
Personal power can be used in good ways. It helps us use words        DYNA’s M & M GAME
when we are mad--instead of hitting. It helps us settle down when
Mom asks us to. Personal power even helps us tell friends, teachers,            Puppets can help children notice characteristics they
other adults and children how we feel. It helps Goldie Locks know          like about themselves. Here is a skit that involves puppets
that the “food” did not make her go into the bears’ house. She had         and M & M’s to illustrate this.
the power to choose what to do, and she used her own personal
power.                                                                     NARRATOR: One day at Dyna’s school, the teacher, Mrs.
                                                                           Stega, taught the childosaurs a new game called the M & M
FINGERPAINT POWER                                                          Game.

                                                                           Mrs. Stega says to Dyna: I think you are all such m-m-m
                                                                           good childosaurs, but sometimes we forget to notice all the
                                                                           wonderful things about ourselves. So, today we will play a
                                                                           game that will help us notice and tell others how mm-mm
                                                                           good we really are.

                                                                           Mrs. Stega (to audience): I would like each of you to play
                                                                           this game with Dyna and her friends. I would like all of you
                                                                           to close your eyes for just a minute and think of something
                                                                           you can do well. Think of something you do well outside in
                                                                           the sandbox or at home with your mom or dad. Do you have
                                                                           a game that you play well? I have noticed that you are all
                                                                           good listeners. Open your eyes now. Raise your hand when
    Another hands-on experience to strengthen personal                     you have something to share with the group.
power is to create a MY WINGS GROW POWERFUL sheet
with sticky stars (see picture). Apply finger paint to a                   Dyna (raising her hand):I am really good at making sand
slightly damp sponge. Using the sponge, cover palms and                    castles, probably the highest sand castles ever.
fingers with the finger paint. Have the thumbs and wrist of
the hands meet and the fingers point outward creating a                    Mrs. Stega: I have noticed, Dyna, you are a great sand
butterfly effect. Put “personal power stars” at the end of the             castle builder. Now you may reach into this cup and pick
antenna of the butterfly. Have the child tell you a time or                out a mm-mm good treat for noticing something mm-mm
times when they used their personal power. Write these on                  good about yourself.
the wing tips of the butterfly. As you write, read the words
back to the child.                                                            Encourage your child to follow Dyna’s example. Ask
                                                                           what they like about their physical selves. Have the puppet
MAKE WARM FUZZIES                                                          model this incorrectly by saying he likes his new t-shirt.
                                                                           Explain that a shirt is not a part of you and go on from here.
     You’ll need various colors of yarn, poster board or thin              Have Dyna give a correct example, I have a pretty tail.
cardboard (cut in 2"x 2" squares or circles), scissors, glue
and a Warm Fuzzy poster (poster board with caption
“Warm Fuzzies”).
     Give child this 2"x 2" square or circle. Show your child                  It feels good when you say something nice about
how to wrap yarn loosely around the cardboard about 10 to                      yourself and when others know what you do well. It
20 loops. Tie at top of cardboard and cut end loops. Talk                      is as good as getting a mm-mm treat — like a piece
about how nice and warm the yarn feels as making the warm                      of candy — or better.
fuzzies.
     When someone treats us nice or praises us, we say they are                Was it easy for you to think of good things to say
giving us a warm fuzzy.                                                        about yourself? Is it always easy?
     Ask each child what a warm fuzzy is. Hugs and stars                       How does it feel to tell nice things about yourself?
are examples of warm fuzzies. Write the examples of warm
fuzzies on the Warm Fuzzy poster board. Tell each child                        What do you tell others about — things you like or
that they can give the warm fuzzy to themselves or give it to                  things you don’t like about yourself?
someone else.                                                                  Let’s all try to remember this game and how mm-
     It is important to give ourselves warm fuzzies as well as give            mm good it feels to tell others about what we do
and accept them from others.                                                   best.



                                                                       3
PROTECTIVE ARMOR
    Developing a positive self-image helps children protect themselves from substance and other personal abuses. Parents can
enhance building a protective armor through the use of encouragement, compliments and positive talk with their children.
    A glue stick and the PROTECTIVE ARMOR pattern is needed. Cut out and glue dinosaurs to construction paper. Cut out
plates from various colored construction paper. Discuss with your child that the best protection from substance abuse and other
personal abuses is to develop a positive self concept. For young children this message comes mainly from external sources.
Children tend to believe they are what their parents or teachers say they are, so it is vital to give positive feedback. Practice as
a parent giving many positives during the week.
    On the “protective armor” plates tell one or two positives you as a parent noticed. Each time your child does something you appreciate,
encourage that action and add a plate or armor to the dinosaur’s back. Write on the plate: “Joe is a great table setter” or “J oe gives the best
hugs”.




KIND WORDS HELP US GROW
    Use the KIND WORDS worksheet and 1 1/4" diameter light-colored round stickers (about six). Fold up the bottom edge of
the worksheet on the dotted line and staple the ends. This creates a pouch to store the stickers. Discuss the importance of using
encouragement with your child as he learns to accomplish the new things he learns.
    Encouragement focuses on the process while praise focuses on the finished product.
    Both are important, but encouragement is especially valuable to help children strive. As a parent, think of a specific
positive action or attribute that was noticed lately about your child. Write it on a flower petal (sticker). Read this positive
action or attribute to your child and place the petal on the flower. Encourage your child to compliment himself. Place this
flower on a wall or the refrigerator and continue to add petals as the child practices encouragement and praise throughout
the week.




       Any products, services, or organizations that are mentioned, shown, or indirectly implied in this publication do not imply
                                             endorsement by The University of Arizona.
                                                                     4

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Healthy Self Esteem for Young Children

  • 1. COOPERATIVE EXTENSION AZ1041 Healthy Self Esteem For Young Children The University of Arizona • College of Agriculture • Tucson, Arizona 85721 7/98 Working with the Young Child: Ages 4 - 8 JANET PAZ Pima County “I’m such a smart boy.” LISA LAUXMAN “This math is easy.” Pima County “I learn fast.” “I like to read.” Healthy self-esteem is something parents and caregivers Experiences of fail- think about and hear about. They probably hope that they ure for the thinking self are doing all the right things to help build a healthy self- produce these kinds of esteem for their children. statements: Self-esteem is what we believe to be true about ourselves “I’m so dumb.” and what we are capable of doing. According to one “Why can’t I learn like everyone else?” authority (Branden, 1987), self-esteem has two components: “I hate school; it’s too hard.” a feeling of personal competence, which allows us to cope “I don’t want to read again.” with life’s challenges, and a feeling of personal worth or self- respect which encourages us to stand up for our interests Social Self …involves a child’s relationships with oth- and needs. In other words, self-esteem is the sum of self- ers—family members, classmates, peers, acquaintances, confidence and self-respect. It reflects your judgment of your and so on. A child who feels good about his or her social ability to cope with the challenges of your life (to understand experiences might say: and master your problems) and of your right to be happy (to “I like being with my family.” respect and stand up for your interests and needs). “I sure have a lot of good friends.” A healthy self-esteem is important because it provides A child whose social self is having negative the foundation for our ability to respond actively and posi- experiencesmight say: tively to the opportunities of life—in work, in love, and in “Why do I have to go to school? Nobody likes me.” play. One of the greatest gifts an adult can give a child is “There’s never anyone to play with.” helping that child build and maintain a healthy self-esteem. Positive experiences in each of the self image compo- nents enhance a child’s total self-image; negative experi- The Components of Self-Esteem ences diminish it. As a child grows and has more experiences, his or her Children’s general feelings of self-worth are closely inner picture of self expands. Experiences of the “physical related to feelings of social competence and their feelings of self,” the “thinking self,” and the “social self” all help mold physical competence. the child’s self-image. So, how do children gain competence? Studies of fami- lies found certain factors are important in raising competent Physical Self …involves the appearance and perfor- children. mance of a child’s body. A child with successful physical- Families of competent children: self experiences might make comments like these: • care about each other. “I have such nice printing.” • reach out to each other. “I’m getting to be so good at jumping rope.” A child having unsuccessful physical experiences might • reach out with the expectation that this say: interaction will be positive. “I don’t want to take my coat off.” • love and respect each other but each is free to “I’m too ugly.” be open and honest. • value individual differences and consider Thinking Self …involves what a child knows—the basic many options for solving problems. concepts in reading, writing, and math taught in school • are involved in community activities. each day. Positive thinking self-image will produce state- ments like these: Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, James A. Christenson, Director, Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona. The University of Arizona College of Agriculture is an equal opportunity employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services to individuals and institutions that function without regard to sex, race, religion, color, national origin, age, Vietnam Era Veteran's status, or disability. 1
  • 2. have parents who respect each other as individuals and present models of leadership Resources: to children. Borba, Michelle and Craig, Self-Esteem. A Classroom • have parents who negotiate problems when Affair, Vol. 2, Harper-Collins Publishers; 1982. they arise. • have a clear power structure. Brooks, Jane B., The Process of Parenting. Mayfield Pub- • have family members who are encouraged to lishing Co., 1991. be individuals and who accept responsibility for their actions. “Working with the Young Child: Ages 4–8” is a series of six • have an understanding of each other and bulletins authored by Arizona Cooperative Extension Family communicate feelings and ideas. Task Force members. The bulletins cover the same major topics found in “Understanding Youth: Working with the Early Ado- lescent” curriculum, but address younger children. These factors help develop competent children. SELF-ESTEEM ENHANCING ACTIVITIES… For Parents and Children Parents have a wonderful challenge and an opportu- Puppets (dolls or stuffed animals) are used to create nity to provide role models for their children as they help situations. Have the puppets “break” a few rules you choose them “grow” self-esteem. A positive self-concept is encour- as important. For instance, hit each other, run, scream, and aged when children feel they are competent and have the throw toys. Also, have puppets demonstrate the acceptable ability to do many things well. Preschool children learn behavior. For instance, share a toy, read, play quietly with through being active and learning about how they feel about a friend, and show empathy for a hurt friend. Mix up their successes. positive and negative examples. New skills can enhance their self-esteem. Parents en- Explain that some of the puppets acted in a way that hance a child’s positive self-esteem when they provide made it easy for them to get along with others and have a positive support about their efforts. We’ve all heard the good time. Some of the puppets created problems. phrase “I love you But...” and invariably parents can’t resist Have them go through the examples shared and give a following a compliment with a helpful suggestion for doing “thumbs up” for those behaviors that you think help them even better. If what you truly want is to encourage your get along with others and a “thumbs down” for those children and build their sense of worth and belonging, behaviors that might cause problems. Ask the child(ren) then let your smiles, thanks, and appreciations stand why certain behaviors are “thumbs up” or “thumbs down;” alone. Remember, for preschoolers the process is most im- what are some ways to stop the “thumbs down” behaviors. portant, not the finished product. This leads to discussions of self-responsibility or personal Parents can teach self-esteem with some of the follow- power. ing fun activities taken from the DARE to be You Preschool Activity Guide. (DARE to be You Program, Colorado State MY WINGS GROW POWERFUL University Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Develop- ment). Let’s talk about power. What is power? Do you think children have any power? Have you ever felt powerful? Does personal SUCCESS SHARING power have anything to do with how tall you are or how big your muscles are? Everyone has personal power no matter what their Sit in a circle or one on one with your child. Roll the ball size. Personal power is our power to decide to do something or not to the child and have them say their name and say one thing to do it. Who do you think of when you think of a powerful person? about themselves, i.e. favorite color, book, toy, or something Children may bring up powerful contemporary figure they learned to do. Help them to focus on something they like like Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, etc. Help to point out to about themselves or something they learned to do that day. them that the character’s real power is its compassion-- helping people in trouble. THUMBS UP, THUMBS DOWN Tell or read the story, "Goldie Locks and the Three Bears." What about “Goldie Locks and the Three Bears”? Does Children are able to develop and model rules for con- Goldie Locks use her personal power in a bad way or a good way? duct and choose behaviors they think are appropriate. What could Goldie Locks do to use her personal power in a good way? 2
  • 3. Personal power can be used in good ways. It helps us use words DYNA’s M & M GAME when we are mad--instead of hitting. It helps us settle down when Mom asks us to. Personal power even helps us tell friends, teachers, Puppets can help children notice characteristics they other adults and children how we feel. It helps Goldie Locks know like about themselves. Here is a skit that involves puppets that the “food” did not make her go into the bears’ house. She had and M & M’s to illustrate this. the power to choose what to do, and she used her own personal power. NARRATOR: One day at Dyna’s school, the teacher, Mrs. Stega, taught the childosaurs a new game called the M & M FINGERPAINT POWER Game. Mrs. Stega says to Dyna: I think you are all such m-m-m good childosaurs, but sometimes we forget to notice all the wonderful things about ourselves. So, today we will play a game that will help us notice and tell others how mm-mm good we really are. Mrs. Stega (to audience): I would like each of you to play this game with Dyna and her friends. I would like all of you to close your eyes for just a minute and think of something you can do well. Think of something you do well outside in the sandbox or at home with your mom or dad. Do you have a game that you play well? I have noticed that you are all good listeners. Open your eyes now. Raise your hand when Another hands-on experience to strengthen personal you have something to share with the group. power is to create a MY WINGS GROW POWERFUL sheet with sticky stars (see picture). Apply finger paint to a Dyna (raising her hand):I am really good at making sand slightly damp sponge. Using the sponge, cover palms and castles, probably the highest sand castles ever. fingers with the finger paint. Have the thumbs and wrist of the hands meet and the fingers point outward creating a Mrs. Stega: I have noticed, Dyna, you are a great sand butterfly effect. Put “personal power stars” at the end of the castle builder. Now you may reach into this cup and pick antenna of the butterfly. Have the child tell you a time or out a mm-mm good treat for noticing something mm-mm times when they used their personal power. Write these on good about yourself. the wing tips of the butterfly. As you write, read the words back to the child. Encourage your child to follow Dyna’s example. Ask what they like about their physical selves. Have the puppet MAKE WARM FUZZIES model this incorrectly by saying he likes his new t-shirt. Explain that a shirt is not a part of you and go on from here. You’ll need various colors of yarn, poster board or thin Have Dyna give a correct example, I have a pretty tail. cardboard (cut in 2"x 2" squares or circles), scissors, glue and a Warm Fuzzy poster (poster board with caption “Warm Fuzzies”). Give child this 2"x 2" square or circle. Show your child It feels good when you say something nice about how to wrap yarn loosely around the cardboard about 10 to yourself and when others know what you do well. It 20 loops. Tie at top of cardboard and cut end loops. Talk is as good as getting a mm-mm treat — like a piece about how nice and warm the yarn feels as making the warm of candy — or better. fuzzies. When someone treats us nice or praises us, we say they are Was it easy for you to think of good things to say giving us a warm fuzzy. about yourself? Is it always easy? Ask each child what a warm fuzzy is. Hugs and stars How does it feel to tell nice things about yourself? are examples of warm fuzzies. Write the examples of warm fuzzies on the Warm Fuzzy poster board. Tell each child What do you tell others about — things you like or that they can give the warm fuzzy to themselves or give it to things you don’t like about yourself? someone else. Let’s all try to remember this game and how mm- It is important to give ourselves warm fuzzies as well as give mm good it feels to tell others about what we do and accept them from others. best. 3
  • 4. PROTECTIVE ARMOR Developing a positive self-image helps children protect themselves from substance and other personal abuses. Parents can enhance building a protective armor through the use of encouragement, compliments and positive talk with their children. A glue stick and the PROTECTIVE ARMOR pattern is needed. Cut out and glue dinosaurs to construction paper. Cut out plates from various colored construction paper. Discuss with your child that the best protection from substance abuse and other personal abuses is to develop a positive self concept. For young children this message comes mainly from external sources. Children tend to believe they are what their parents or teachers say they are, so it is vital to give positive feedback. Practice as a parent giving many positives during the week. On the “protective armor” plates tell one or two positives you as a parent noticed. Each time your child does something you appreciate, encourage that action and add a plate or armor to the dinosaur’s back. Write on the plate: “Joe is a great table setter” or “J oe gives the best hugs”. KIND WORDS HELP US GROW Use the KIND WORDS worksheet and 1 1/4" diameter light-colored round stickers (about six). Fold up the bottom edge of the worksheet on the dotted line and staple the ends. This creates a pouch to store the stickers. Discuss the importance of using encouragement with your child as he learns to accomplish the new things he learns. Encouragement focuses on the process while praise focuses on the finished product. Both are important, but encouragement is especially valuable to help children strive. As a parent, think of a specific positive action or attribute that was noticed lately about your child. Write it on a flower petal (sticker). Read this positive action or attribute to your child and place the petal on the flower. Encourage your child to compliment himself. Place this flower on a wall or the refrigerator and continue to add petals as the child practices encouragement and praise throughout the week. Any products, services, or organizations that are mentioned, shown, or indirectly implied in this publication do not imply endorsement by The University of Arizona. 4