Walk Like a Man
How to Raise Your Son to Be a Great Guy
Strengthen His Sense of Self
Think of men you admire. Odds are they have an important trait in common: a healthy dose of self-esteem. When a man feels good about himself, it doesn't mean he's egotistical. It means that he feels confident, competent and worthy—exactly what you want for your son.
How to Do It
• Skip the false praise. Saying, You're the smartest kid in the world, or, You're the best basketball player ever, sets expectations your son can't live up to. "Praise his efforts rather than his talents," says Kuchenbecker. According to studies at Columbia University, young kids feel more accomplished and better able to handle challenges when they're praised for how they do a task (You worked hard) and for completing it (Good job getting that done), rather than when they hear general kudos like I'm proud of you.
• Don't label him. Never say, Boys will be boys, or use other expressions that blame your son's behavior on his gender or that suggest he can't control his actions. "The messages kids get from parents play a major role in the development of their self-esteem," says Paul W. Schenk, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist in Tucker, Ga. "When your son hears words that attack who he is, it has a negative impact on his self-worth." Bottom line: He'll begin to believe what those phrases imply—that boys are troublemakers.
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