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How to Raise Kids to Have a Healthy Sense of Self-Esteem
Sara Dimerman

Many of us were raised by parents who felt that children should be seen and not heard. They may... more

How to Raise Kids to Have a Healthy Sense of Self-Esteem
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Many of us were raised by parents who felt that children should be seen and not heard. They may have believed that if we were encouraged to stand in the spotlight, the attention would go to our heads. Nowadays, parents push their children not just to be their personal best but to outshine everyone else and to rise to the top. This is understandable in light of strong competition in the university system as well as in the workplace. In other words, if you don’t get the highest marks in your class or if you’re not a leader, you may get left behind. This belief is not unfounded. However, in the process of raising children to be fierce leaders and better than the rest, parents may unintentionally be neglecting to teach other important values such as empathy, consideration for others and teamwork.

The trick to raising self-confident and motivated children is to understand how and where to draw the line between boosting their self-esteem and causing them to overestimate their abilities, or to have an over-the-top need for affirmation or admiration.

Consider the following:

When your child comes home with an A on a test, and you respond with something like, ‘I’m not surprised. You’ve always been more intelligent than your friends. You’re top of the class I’m sure.’

Unfortunately, a response such as this sends a message to your child that he or she is better than everyone else. Children who internalize this may become snobby or aloof. This attitude will ultimately not help them in the real world where it is better to appreciate others’ strengths and weaknesses and to show humility.

Instead, focus on their accomplishment. Say something like, ‘Wow, your hard work really paid off’ or ‘you must be proud of yourself.’

After watching your child perform on stage or on the field, you say something like, ‘What would your team do without you? You make them look good!’

This response would unfortunately encourage your child to believe that others cannot function without them around. This does not promote teamwork or humility and gives the child an inflated sense of self. Although you may believe that your child is better than the rest, not everyone will.

Instead of focusing on their performance as being better than others, it may be wiser to say something like: ‘You were all so in sync with one another. It was a pleasure to watch. What great teamwork!’

Also, rather than praising everything your child does or waiting for a positive ending to comment, encourage them during the process. If you notice that their writing skills, for example, have improved, share what you are seeing along the way, as in ‘I can see how hard you’re working at forming your letters.’

In this way, you are focusing on process rather than end result. If you constantly praise your child’s work, he or she may become a praise junkie and constantly look for affirmation and validation from others. This may set tehm up for disappointment and frustration in the real world when they don’t get showered with all the validation and approval they’ve gotten from you.

Sara Dimerman is a psychologist and provides counselling to individuals, couples and families. She is one of North America's most trusted parenting and relationship experts and the author of three books: Am I a Normal Parent?, Character is The Key and How Can I Be Your Lover When I'm Too Busy Being Your Mother?: The Answer to Becoming Partners Again. Learn more or listen to advice from Sara and her colleagues by searching for 'helpmesara' podcasts on iTunes or visiting Follow Sara on Twitter @helpmesara.
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spring cleaning and organizing tips from the Professional Organizers in Canada
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It’s April! Time to say goodbye to the cold winter weather and hello to springtime, spring flowers and spring cleaning (and clearing). Once you’ve tackled the dusty drapes and cleaned behind those hard-to-reach spots, it’s time to think about clearing out the clutter and organizing your space. 

We asked a handful of POC members to provide us with their very best tips on how to tackle the ‘spring clearing’ season and we’re sharing them with you. So without further adieu, here are 14 spring clearing tips from the pros:

  1. Get started. Start at the beginning of the month and put two items in a ‘donate’ box every day for the entire month. Sixty-two fewer items to worry about.
  2. Share your list. Share with two friends your list of ‘incompletes’ and messes that you want to complete in the next 60 days and hold each other accountable.
  3. Delete it. Take 5 minutes once a week to go through the pictures on your phone or tablet and clear out all those excess photos.
  4. Toss your winter wear. Get rid of any winter gear you didn’t use this past season. Be ruthless. If you didn’t use it, it’s even less likely you will next winter.
  5. Hang it up. Use S-hooks or shower curtain rings to get the clutter off the floor in pantries and closets—great for purses, umbrellas, mops, brooms and other cleaning supplies.
  6. Pack it light. When de-cluttering, try to leave about 20 percent ‘breathing room’ on each shelf. If that sounds unattainable, just open up as much free space as you can.
  7. Product purge. Run a major clean up of your cosmetics and hair product paraphernalia. Discard the old and disinfect the remaining, create inventory, and list missing items. Now you’re ready for your new ‘spring look’ shopping.
  8. Clear your counters. We’re all about spring clearing, not just cleaning. Clear your surfaces by creating vertical storage solutions. Move up instead of spreading out.
  9. Finish what you started. Instead of sorting new stuff into new bins, go through the bins you already have and donate as much as you can.
  10. Expire the expired. Get rid of old prescriptions, vitamins and food past its prime.
  11. Freeze it. Now is the hour to clear out your freezer. Make it a mission to plan meals using frozen food. When in doubt, throw it out.
  12. Embrace the baskets. Get small baskets for drawers to sort like items. Discard anything unwanted, pop the baskets back in and you’re done.
  13. Label your gardening tools. Gardening season is approaching! Organize your gardening tools and accessories by creating labeled bins to sort all the little things, like seeds, gloves and plant tags.
  14. Ask for help. Invite a good friend over, open a bottle of wine, and start going through your closet. Take their advice!

Feel free to spread out your spring clearing tasks over the next three months and take it one large project at a time.

Image of spring cleaning from Shutterstock.

The Professional Organizers in Canada is a national registered non-profit association that provides education, business development tools and a code of ethics for all types of organizers across Canada. Currently representing more than 500 Professional Organizers in more than 14 chapters nation-wide, POC’s mandate is to provide a supportive environment for members to learn, share ideas, network and exchange resources. For more information, please visit
Comments | Tagged under organizing, spring, cleaning
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