SELF ESTEEM – is our immune system protecting us from the negativity in the world. It is our armor that protects of from harsh words and the hardships of life.

SELF ESTEEM can be built by changing our perspective. How we look at failure and the negative events that happen in our lives. It is all PERSPECTIVE.

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

― Abraham Lincoln


Giving out ribbons for losing is not a solution and not reality
Telling kids they are great today when they are not, creates problems later – American Idol example
Not giving children permission to fail
Role modeling poor self-esteem
We need to help children develop an accurate perception of life and ability to interact with it. Rescuing children and giving them the answers all the time denies children the opportunity to develop the skills they need to have a healthy self-esteem.


EXERCISE: Tell parents to place the letter “d” with their fingers on their chin. When you look at the audience you will notice that most parents have put the letter “d” on their cheek as this is what you have placed your letter “d.” This is what you modeled. People are more likely to imitate what they see than what they hear.

Todd’s story: Todd was a seven-year-old boy from Falgarwood Public School in Oakville. He was up to get vaccinated at his school. His mother came in with Todd hysterical, telling me how much Todd hated needles. Todd was in a “get me the heck out of here” mode. I calmly took Todd away from his over reactive mom and brought him to see the nurse. I calmly talked to Todd, diverting is attention away from the needle. I told him it would feel like a pinprick. He got the needle and then laughed as he realized it was no big deal. If he had stayed with his mother, he would have had to be pinned to the chair.

Parents need to model good self-esteem. How do you react to negativity? To the times you fail? To your bad days?


It’s alright to fail as failing is an opportunity to learn. Every person on this planet that been successful is not afraid to fail and fail constantly. Thomas Edison failed over 9000 times before inventing the light bulb. When he was asked about his failures his response was that he didn’t fail. He just found 9000 ways not to create a light bulb. Again, PERSPECTIVE. The individuals who made the Baseball Hall of Fame failed 95 % of the time, but managed to make it into the hall of fame. Their failure led them to their success.

Help children realize that failure is not a person, but an event. It is an event that could potentially lead to success if we learn and grow from the event.

“A person who hasn’t fail hasn’t tried anything. Reduce the fear of failure.”

Depression, anxiety, and suicide can be the result of creating unrealistic expectations about the world as they can never reach the expectations that were set because they were not realistic. This is commonly seen when kids go to university because they cannot handle the world as they do not have the coping mechanisms.

STORY: At camp one year I had a parent upset because her son came home with a mosquito bite on his ankle. I had another parent mad at me because her child was outside all day at camp. It was an outside, all day camp? These should have been opportunities to build resilience and not have been a rescue mission.

Sarah was a girl with a craniofacial difference. She used her situation to teach people the importance of focusing on inner beauty.
Byron was a young man I met up in Richmond Hill. He was blind. He taught us that even though he was blind, he had the tenacity to try everything.
Scott was a 7-year old I met from Burlington. He dad was murdered when he was five years old. Scott taught us that he was going to use this event to help others who go through tough situations.

Our self-talk leads us to our destination. If we believe that we are dumb we limit our potential. We repeat words like fat, loser, lazy, ugly which become self-fulling prophecies.

The more we repeat these negative statement the more we reinforce our beliefs, which creates a false truth and directs and limits our lives.

THE ARM EXPERIMENT – Person will hold out their arm and resist having it pushed down. They will repeat positive statements like: “I am great. I am amazing.” I will try to push the arm down. It will not move. I will then ask the individual to repeat negative statements. The arm is pushed down. The goal is to reinforce the concept that our self-talk has a powerful effect on our resilience.


My birth mother was a 16-year-old girl from Aberdeen Scotland. She had me out of wedlock, so she was shipped off to Dundee, Scotland to give birth to me in a Salvation Army Hostel for Unwed Women. For the first six months of my life I was given sustenance, but not much affection or love. I was eventually adopted and brought to Canada. I was a very shy, sensitive boy who wore his emotions on his sleeve. I was an easy target for a community bully. From the age of 8 to 18 I was victimized by bullies, physically and emotionally abused and on top of everything had to deal with an inability to read and write. I was labeled with ADHD and a learning disability which just compounded my lack of self-confidence. But here I stand, a confident, well-adjusted man. How did I recapture my self-esteem and gain the confidence I have today.


Understanding my ADHD and Learning Disability
Getting involved in clubs: Boy Scouts, Choirs, Marching Bands, Rock Bands
Surrounding myself with caring, positive people. Watch who your children are hanging out with. They will either have a positive or negative influence.
Gaining success in music, writing, magic. Music saved my life in high school as this is where I gained all my self-esteem. I eventually joined successful rock band that helped me gain confidence.
Changing my self-talk and focusing on what I could do and not on what I was bad at. (and there was a lot of that)
*****WHAT HELPS IMPROVE SELF ESTEEM IS CREATING “THE BALANCE” – Balancing the negative events with successes and accurate perceptions*****


Research shows that children with high self-esteem tend to have parents who show their children lots of love and acceptance. Children with low self-esteem tend to have parents who are judgmental and critical.

My parents were typical Scottish parents. They showed their love by providing for their family, giving us gifts at Christmas and on our birthdays and instructing us on what was right and what was wrong. Our lives were void of phrases like, “I love you,” or hugs or any forms physical affection. I interpreted criticism and a lack of overt displays of affection as being not worthy or significant, resulting in a low self-esteem. Don’t be afraid of telling your children you love them. Don’t just assume that they know.

Praise your children for specific behaviors and be sincere. Sometimes when children behave well we don’t take the time to acknowledge the behavior. We tend to notice the inappropriate behavior more often. Make an effort to reinforce the positive behaviors and accomplishments with praise. Parents who are frequently critical and disapproving need to have children with low self-esteem. STORY: David was a boy who went to Kilbride Public School. He had a lot of behavioral issues. I worked with him over a summer. He went back to school a new kid. His behavior was incredible and noticed by the teachers. He reverted back to his inappropriate behavior in January. When I asked David why he would go back to “the old David” as everyone was impressed with the changes in him. His response was, “Nobody told me.”

Treat your children with respect. Sometimes parents talk to their children in ways they would never dream of talking their friends. Some parents call their children names, compare them to their siblings and belittle them. This leads to poor self-esteem. Be aware of how you speak to your child when you are angry. Parents should have the same expectation on how their children speak to them.

Be consistent. Family rules should be made clear to children and they should be consistently reinforced. This is one-way children will learn which behaviors are acceptable, and which are not. STORY: My brother knew that if my mother said “no” to one of his requests all he had to do is ask at least 10 more times and the answer would change to a “yes.” The rules became vague and inconsistent creating a toxic environment.

“If you are persistent you will get it. If you are consistent you will keep it.”

Don’t demand perfection. Children need to know they have accepted warts and all. My mother constantly criticized me. This made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. In her mind, she was doing it out of love. In her mind, she was helping me. The unfortunate effect was that her constant critic made me feel as if I wasn’t capable of making successful decisions on my own. It can create a learned helplessness.

Listen to your children. One of the most powerful things you can do as a parent is listening to your child, free of giving them a lecture on life. I have often wondered why children respond so positively to me. I can connect to a group of hundreds of children in minutes. I get children excited about learning about bullying. The reason I have had so much success with children is I take the time to actively listen and pay attention to them. They feel I am their ally. You Don’t need to give advice to your child all the time. Sometimes if the child knows there is a lecture attached to having a conversation with their parent they decide not to talk. Listen, Listen and listen some more.

Keep your promises. When parents don’t keep their promises it confuses children. It delivers a message that the parents don’t care about the child. Don’t make promises you cannot keep. When I ask children if they have ever had an adult break a promise many hands go up. They feel the adult doesn’t care about them enough to keep their promise. The result is a punch to the self-esteem.

Don’t allow your child to negatively criticize themselves. If you hear your child criticizing themselves take the opportunity to correct them. Negative self-statements, if repeated can start to become a self-fulling prophecy. When I was struggling with reading I called myself dumb. I repeated this statement daily. The more I repeated it the more real it became. It could have become a word that would direct my entire life. Fortunately, I met a girl name Evelyn Bagchus, who helped me correct this negative self-statement. Help children realize mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow as are challenges of not being able to read. Empower them with positive self-statements and a positive attitude.

Spend time with your children. STORY: I met a boy named Craig at one of my Kids 4 Kids Program. He presented as a boy with a lot of behavior issues. He was quite the attention seeker. I remember turning away from him for a few seconds only to be redirected to Craig who was now wearing a garbage can lid on his head, walking around beeping like a robot. As I got to know Craig I realized this was a boy who was striving for attention. He would seek attention from the secondary figures in his life like myself or his teachers, but what he was desperate for was attention from his dad. I worked with his dad for a few weeks, teaching him various things he could do with Craig to reestablish the connection. Within weeks, Craig was a new boy. He no longer was behaving inappropriately as he was now receiving the attention and love he sought. His self-esteem was on the mend. BOBBY STORY: When I first met Bobby he introduced himself by punching me in the stomach and telling me to f” off. This was all for the benefit of the peers that were in the room. As I got to know Bobby I could see this boy had a lot of potential. I invited him into a Kids 4 Kids program to assist me with the younger children. The kids absolutely loved him. He eventually realized he could get the attention he was seeking by being a positive role model opposed to an attention seeker.

Give your child responsibilities. A basic need we all have is to feel like we are contributing and appreciated. Giving your child responsibilities delivers a message that you trust and value your child. You know they are capable. It will also give you the opportunity to praise them after they have completed the task. I have had children excited about making their bed and doing the dishes. They are excited because I do not present as, “You have to do your share of the WORK around the house.” Rather, I tell them that by helping around the how you develop your lead sills, feel great about yourself, help others and build your confidence. It challenges you to be the best you can be.” It is all in how it is presented.

Encourage your child to take risks. Fail Forward. Instead of being overprotective and trying to prevent failure, parents should help their children cope with it in positive ways when it happens. Parents who teach their children how to cope with failure and/or rejection when it occurs are giving their children a tool that will be useful throughout life. When failure or rejection occurs, parents should make sure that their children learn not to take it personally. Parents can point out to their children that such things happen for many reasons, but not because they are not good people. If children learn to see rejection and/or failure as something that is temporary and that it is not a reflection of the individuals they are, they are more likely not to let failure or rejection affect their self-esteem. From failure comes growth. If you haven’t failed, you haven’t tried anything.

Kids 4 Kids Leadership Program and Self Esteem

The reason Kids 4 Kids has survived 23 years is because children want acknowledgment. They want to receive attention and feel important. These are the keys to building self-esteem.

We help children build resilience, tenacity and leadership character as this will help children become confident and have healthy self-esteem.

Define Leadership
Respect, Responsibility, Initiative, Integrity, Trust
Anti-bullying strategies
Anger Management
Peer Pressure/Dares
Adjusting inaccurate perceptions and giving children strategies they can use to be successful

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