Help your child learn to share what he or she has 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 your child receives a gift from someone, discuss with the child how much the gift - and the person who sent the gift - are appreciated. Then ask the child to write a thank-you note.
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 our sin in Isaiah 53:6- "Each of us has turned to his own way" -is a good reminder that selfish independence is wrong.
When your child's pride is hurt, help the child deal with the hurt by encouraging him or her to pray about it, and to talk it over with others. "Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice" (Proverbs 13:10).
Also, let the child know you love and will continue to love him or her no matter what mistakes he or she makes. (How can we do any less, since God loves us so unfailingly?)
Don't encourage your child to ignore those who hurt or disagree with him or her. God wants us to develop a healthy interdependence with others, not a prideful independence.
As parents, we need to see our child's hurt as a situation for godly growth, rather than only trying to stop the hurt. Children often seem to be able to handle more hurt than their parents think. They find it easier to forgive and forget than most adults do.
Self-control is another key component of selfworth. Learn how to help your child recognize more and more his own responsibility for his conduct.
Remember that each child must be loved according to his unique personality, and that developing his self-worth is a gradual process.
Pray for God's direction and search for wisdom in the Scriptures.
Le Etta Bradshaw is a wife, mother, and a former elementary school teacher.