Self-Esteem v.s. Self-Righteousness

Educating Our Children

Educating Our Children?

Welcome to the jungle. Are you ready to begin?

The quest is to raise a child that has a good sense of self. You’ve been told that praise is the key but be careful because what you haven’t been told is that this key can also open the door to a pack of troubles if praise is the only thing you do!

Praise, like any tool for raising children, can be used inappropriately. Praise tends to imply attaching a value to a child for demonstrating particular behaviour. However, children are valuable and should be loved for the mere fact that they exist. Even though there is a connection, there is also a difference between valuing children and facilitating appropriate behaviour. While it is true that children who are valued tend to behave and perform better, children who are only praised and whose misbehaviours are not dealt with tend to believe everything they do is all right and that the world revolves around them. This in turn leads to the development of self-righteousness.

Self-righteousness can best be described as an attitude about oneself. It is characterized by a feeling of being important to the exclusion of anyone else, so that what the child wants or feels or does, counts for everything above anyone else. Children with this kind of attitude tend to be bossy, telling others what to do, or loners because no one else can measure up. While valuing a child is absolutely important for the development of a healthy sense of self, praise without direction, feedback and consequences, turns out to be a prescription for a self-righteous attitude.

Rather than self-righteousness, self-esteem is the true prize to be sought in terms of a child’s healthy sense of self. Self-esteem is relational. With self-esteem the child not only feels good about himself or herself individually, but also in relation to others. Self-righteousness is egocentric while self-esteem is social.

Children with healthy self-esteem understand and respond to limits. They feel good about themselves at no one else’s expense. These children tend to be kind and considerate.

So it’s time to ask yourself, which one are you fostering in the children around you?

Amanda Adhami

Paralysis is Certain

Limiting Beliefs

I had a student a few years back who was deathly afraid of red pens.  Not exactly in the phobia sort of sense, but if you happened to touch his page with a red pen while you were pointing out a correction he would yell and cry.  He’d panic, and then stop everything he was doing and focus all of his attention on that dot.  He’d struggle to erase it or draw on top of it so no one would see it.  Life wouldn’t go on for him until the red was no longer visible.

Why?  Because he needed to be certain that he was doing the right thing.  He needed to know that his answers were correct, and red pen marks made him unsure.  And this child was only six years old.  If he remained that way as he grew, what would the rest of his life be like?

The story below is one I wrote a while back that you can share with your students.  Perhaps it will help some, like my red pen friend, to take a few risks and reach out beyond themselves to be, do and have more in life.  Perhaps you can help your children get past certainty-paralysis to really see, and explore, the possibilities life has to offer.

Rock Solid?  

Imagine this… You have passed back through the ages to the time of the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. You have traveled on your camel for days in search of the knowledge that this one man possesses, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.

Upon arriving at your destination, you meet a generous family who is willing to open its doors to you and provide you with food and shelter for as long as you wish to remain in the city, alhamdu lillah. When you reach their home, you are directed as to where you can allow your camel to rest during your stay. You dismount, exhausted and famished from your long journey, and begin carefully gathering rocks from the ground around you. One by one, feeling them heavier and heavier as you collect them, you stack them on top of one another in a large square until they stand as tall as you. Finally, with your camel securely within his stone wall, you enter the family’s safe haven to gain some much desired food and water.

Huh?

As strange as the ending of this story may sound, we often find ourselves doing, in essence, the very same thing in our lives. We want certainty to such a great extent that we are willing to do things that don’t even make sense in order to get it. Just as this person wanted the security of knowing that his camel would remain in the same place until his return, we want the security of knowing that our decisions and choices in life will produce the results we want.

So what do we do? We plan and plan but never act. We fill our days with tasks that don’t move us forward but keep us securely where we are now, even though that may not be where we want to be. We delay making choices, waiting for the perfect, and certain, opportunity to arise. But of course it doesn’t.

We need certainty and predictability in our lives because in its absence we are left with only chaos, but at the same time we need variety and ‘spice’ to keep our lives in motion. And that spice comes from taking steps forward when the way is not 100% certain.

One day our beloved Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, then said, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah” (Tirmidhi).

We have to do our part, for ourselves, our loved ones, and for our communities. And sometimes that means not knowing completely what the outcome of our actions will be when we take them.

As we move forward, we may feel that the path in front of us is perhaps scary and unknown, but seeking Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala’s guidance and trusting in Him gives us the certainty of knowing that He will be there with us all the way.

By Sonia Dabboussi