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The Keys to Good Self Esteem: Free Time and a Passion
By Sally Sacks


I think the most important thing you can do as a parent is to sponsor good self esteem in your child. If a child believes in themselves and feels good about themselves, they can do most anything. One way to sponsor self esteem is to help children to occupy their free time in ways that are productive, and to encourage them to not only play with their friends, but to do something that creates a passion for them and a meaning in life.

My son is very involved in sports, and loves most of them. Although as a mother I complain about the schedule, and parental driving obligations, I am so glad that he has this interest and passion. It keeps him busy and away from more destructive behaviors that kids often get involved in when they have nothing better to do. I recently went to my stepdaughter's play, and the cast was so united and connected as a group. They were planning their next play. Kids need connections like these. They need help from parents to decide what interests them if they don't naturally have a specific interest.

Sometimes kids don't know what they want to do, or don't want to make the effort. This is often because of fear. They don't think that they will do well so are afraid to try. As a parent you must talk to them about that fear, and be aware enough to know that they have it. Sometimes parents don't pick up on the fear, and just feel that the child is lazy or a homebody.

How can you get your child involved in more things? Talk to them, if they aren't doing much with their free time, and tell them that you'd like them to be involved in something special, that they can call their own. For example, if you wanted your child to take dance, for the beauty, the movements etc, take them to a dance performance, and then talk about it afterwards. Take them to a play, and let them see how others unite as a group, and are praised for their performance.

Here are eight things to keep in mind to help motivate your kids to reach out and discover their passion:

1. Introduce your child to new and exciting things to become involved in.
2. Encourage them to try something, and be aware of their fear to try.
3. Tell them a story about when you were scared to do something and worked to overcome it.
4. Let them know that everyone has fear, and that the challenge is to overcome it.
5. Keep open communication about the necessity to be involved in things to succeed in life. Those with no interests and passion don't go far in succeeding.
6. Teach them about the possibilities in the future for them, so that they can imagine them, if they were to continue on with their interest and activity.
7. For example if they are in a play, and do really well, help them envision how fun it would be to be an actress/actor. Have a discussion about it.
8. Last but not least do interesting things yourself. Children learn by what they see, not as much by what you say!

These actions on your part will spark interests and ideas in your kids. Once they try something and feel the positive effects of it they will want more. If what they choose is not right for them, help them pick something else, and learn from their error rather than put themselves down. Remember to stay aware if they are quitting something due to fear. You must differentiate between fear of not being good enough and actual dislike for something. Usually fear is a strong motivator to withdraw from something, or to never even try.

Sally Sacks, M.Ed is a licensed psychotherapist, with 20 years of experience, counseling individuals, children, families and couples. Sally is the author of How to Raise the Next President, a groundbreaking parents' guide to teaching and instilling in their kids the qualities they'll need to be happy, successful and productive, no matter which path they choose in life. Sally offers personal and group coaching and can be reached through her website at www.sallysacks.com.

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