Build on Success

No child wants to fail or intentionally get into trouble. Henry David Thoreau said, “Men are born to succeed, not fail.” Renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow agreed with this concept when he declared that it is a basic human need to strive toward success and self-actualization. 

People improve more by building on their strengths than by working on their weaknesses. This does not mean that a weakness should be ignored, but it does mean that the emphasis should be on what the child can do, rather than on what the child cannot do. The simple belief that something can be done is the spark that ignites action. When a child is first learning a skill, it is the successes—not the failures—that encourage perseverance and lead to building character, positive self-talk, and self-esteem. 

As a parent, you have a responsibility to find your child’s interests, talents, or skills and acknowledge them. “I see that you draw well. I can tell because of the detail in your sketch.” (Notice the use of an acknowledgment rather than praise.) Youngsters with low self-esteem require acknowledgments to be repeated a number of times and in different ways. These children need to believe that someone else believes in them before their own belief in themselves kicks in.