Help your children learn to share what they have with others, since giving of one's self and one's time stimulates a healthy self-concept. This could mean babysitting without pay for a neighbor who is sick or helping with the yardwork at an elderly person's home. A good self-image comes from looking outward, not inward.
When children receive gifts, discuss with them how much the gift─and the person who sent the gift ─ are appreciated. Then ask children to write thank-you notes.
Talk often together about the principle in James 4:6─ "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Discuss it not in a threatening way, but gently, helping your child realize that learning humility is as important an achievement as anything else he accomplishes.
The description of sin in Isaiah 53:6─ "Each of us has turned to his own way" ─is a good reminder that selfish independence is wrong.
When someone hurts a child's feelings, help the child deal with the hurt by encouraging him or her to pray about it and talk about it with others. "Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice" (Prov. 13:10).
Also, let children know you love them and will continue to love them no matter what mistakes they make. (How can we do any less, since God loves us so unfailingly?)
Don't encourage children to ignore those who hurt them or disagree with them. God wants us to develop a healthy interdependence with others, not a prideful independence.
As parents, we need to see our children's hurt as a situation for godly growth rather than trying only to stop the hurt. Children often seem to be able to handle more hurt than their parents think they can. They find it easier to forgive and forget than most adults do.
Self-control is another key component of selfworth. Learn how to help children recognize more and more their own responsibility for their conduct.
Remember that children must be loved according to their unique personalities, and that developing their self-worth is a little-by-little process.
You'll do the best job by praying for God's direction and searching for wisdom in the Scriptures.
Le Etta Bradshaw is a wife and mother and a former elementary school teacher.