Step-by-Step Guidelines for Raising
Responsible, Productive, Happy Children.

In our search for guidelines we parents have turned to the many books available on child-rearing. But here we find the important issues facing us treated on the whole as separate, isolated topics. We have not been given a cohesive, basic framework -- the child's self-esteem -- into which we may place each important facet of living with children.

This book gives just such a framework. Here is a new way of looking at child development: seeing all growth and behavior against the back drop of the child's search for identity and self-respect. Step by step, you will be shown specifically how to build a solid sense of self-worth in your child. Then, your youngster is slated for personal happiness in all areas of his life. Unless you fully understand the nature of the human fabric and work with it, you travel blindly and may pay the price.

This book has been written because of my firm conviction, born of twenty-five years' work in psychology and education as well as from my experiences as a mother, that parenthood is too important for the "by-guess-and-by-golly" approach. Awareness of the facts can help you discharge your responsibilities toward those entrusted to your care, give you confidence as a parent, and point the way to your own personal development.

[from the softbound edition, preamble]

Your Child's Self-Esteem by Dorothy Corkille Briggs

About the Author

A member of Phi Beta Kappa and other honoraries, Dorothy Corkille Briggs has worked as a teacher of both children and adults; dean of girls; school psychologist; and marriage, family and child counselor during the last twenty-five years. Since 1958 she has taught parent-education courses and training in communication and resolution of conflicts.

[from the softbound edition]

Table of Contents

Our Culture's Oversight xiii


The Basis of Emotional Health



Mirrors Create Self-Images    9


Mirrors Influence Behavior   21


The Price of Warped Mirrors   27


The Trap of Negative Reflections   37


Polishing Parental Mirrors



Genuine Encounter   61


The Safety of Trust   72


The Safety of Nonjudgment   82


The Safety of Being Cherished   89


The Safety of "Owning" Feelings   97


The Safety of Empathy  104


The Safety of Unique Growing



Journey of Self: Over-all Plan  121


Journey of Self: First Six Years  124


Journey of Self: Middle Years  139


Journey of Self: Adolescence



Handling Children's Feelings  179


Cracking the Code of Anger  199


Lifting the Mask of Jealousy



Disciples in Discipline  225


Old Ways of Discipline  231


Constructive Discipline



Motivation, Intelligence, and Creativity



The Wedding of Sex and Love  285


In Conclusion  305
Checklist of Basic Ideas  309
Reading Guide  323
Index  335

[from the softbound edition]


"A practical book of significant family helpfulness."

--Los Angeles Times

"One of the best books on child guidance...simple, practical, and consistently constructive in handling the innumerable questions that arise in any family."

--Dr. Paul Popenoe,
Family Life

"Advice appropriate for all human relationships."

--The Circulator (National YMCA)

"An exciting new book...some of the best suggestions available."

--Dr. Louise Bates Ames,
Gessell Institute, Oregon Journal

"Excellent, practical, sensitive wisdom embodying the most positive insights of modern psychology...readable, personal, down-to-earth."

--Dr. Robert Goldenson,
Consultant, N.Y. Institute for Child Mental Health


"At last a book that tells HOW. So lucid and specific. Gives parents confidence."

"Have not found anything like it in print...this is IT."

"A gold mine -- a treasure. Only wish I'd had this book earlier."

"Have seen so many positive changes in myself and my children since I started applying these principles."

"I have urged my daughter and her husband to secure it -- after all I want my grandson and his future brothers and/or sisters to benefit from its contents. I endorse it without reservation."

"A blueprint for living with yourself and others."

[from the back cover]

Read more reviews of this book on the website:
Your Child's Self-Esteem

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High self-esteem, then, comes from positive reflections around the child. You may say, "Nonsense, I know lots of people who, as children, had the worst possible relationships with their parents and life in general. Yet today they are 'successes' who seem very sure of themselves and have many outstanding achievements."

True, there are many such people. But the external trappings of "success" do not ensure inner peace. Often individuals who look successful from the outside inwardly pay the price: living behind masks of phony confidence, alienation, neurotic defenses, and restless malcontent. Loners who dislike themselves, they may use constant busyness as an escape. Yet, they feel inadequate no matter how much evidence of outer "success" they stack up.

Genuine self-esteem, which is our concern here, is how you feel about yourself privately, not whether you can put up a good front or accumulate wealth and status.

To build pictures of themselves as truly adequate, to feel thoroughly all right inside, children need living experiences that prove their lovability and worth. Telling a child he is special is not enough. Experience is what counts. It speaks louder than words.

Children value themselves to the degree
that they have been valued.

Various factors combine to make you a most crucial mirror in your child's life: his prolonged dependency for physical and emotional satisfactions, his sustained contact with you, and the fact that your reflections of him are the first he experiences. To the young child, you are magnified until you take on the appearance of a god.

Your Child's Self-Esteem
pages 14-15

We often think of parents as demonstrating love when they are affectionate, repeatedly set aside their own interests for their youngsters, watch over them with vigilance, offer material advantages, spend abundant time with them, or treat them as if they were especially superior. Such behavior, however, doesn't necessarily make children feel loved.

While warm affection and close body contact foster physical, mental, and emotional growth, such affection does not, in and of itself, guarantee that a child will feel loved. Cold, impersonal treatment, especially during the early years, damages all aspects of development; yet, responsive affect alone doesn't convince a child that he's lovable. He needs much more to be certain he is loved. Too many children from affectionate families feel uncherished.

The parent who continually sets aside his own needs to met those of his child may appear to be loving. But such behavior can mask intense selfishness, low self-esteem, fear of conflict, and even unconscious rejection. Being a child's personal satellite eventually builds resentment in parents...and this feeling is bound to be communicated by body language. Living with martyrdom is not living with love.

The watchful parents who guides and directs at every turn conveys the idea that the world is full of dangers that the child cannot handle. Overprotection says, "You are not competent," rather than, "You are lovable." It undermines self-respect.

Parents are constantly advised to spend more time with children. Yet, it is the quality of time and not its quantity that affects the feeling of being loved. Mr. H. spends hours with his youngsters, working with them on projects and games. On the surface the time spent looks like proof of devotion. But when you observe, you hear a flow of comments like these:

"Stop dawdling over your turn, Jimmy. Get going!"

"You're not holding that saw right. How many times have I told you to hold it this way?"

"Why can't you pitch that ball the way your brother does? When will you learn to throw from your shoulder?"

"You've messed up this paint job. Here, let me do it. For Pete's sake, this time watch me. If you're going to do something, do it right!"

The hours with his youngsters are filled with criticisms, lack of respect, comparisons, and high demands. The more time his children spend with him, the less adequate and lovable they feel. Sheer time does not necessarily add up to love.

We've all seen parents who provide lavish material advantages. Yet, as one boy coming from such a home put it, "My father saw to it that I had the best of everything. He actually insisted that I have gold fillings in my teeth, even though he could hardly afford them. But I never felt loved."

Did this father swamp his son with advantages because of love or to satisfy his own unmet childhood needs? Did he do this to fit his image of the "good" father, or to hide from both himself and the boy an unconscious rejection of him? Material advantages can serve as substitutes for love. It is easier to give gifts than to give of ourselves.

Mr. S. is convinced that his son is exceptionally superior. He exaggerates the boy's achievements and expects him to do earth-shaking things. Watching him, we may think he's blinded by "love" for his son. But deep inside, the boy knows his father's picture of him is untrue, and he finds it impossible to live up to his expectations. His son begins to feel inadequate and unloved, as he really is.

Casting a child in a role that meets our needs rather than his doesn't build love. Each child has to feel valued apart from his achievements.

Unless we're careful, we can mistakenly think of physical affection, martyrdom, overprotection, high expectations, time spent with children, and material gifts as evidence of love. But they can tangle caring so that it doesn't come through.

Your Child's Self-Esteem
pages 62-64

Most of us are taught that anger is "bad" and should not exist. In turn, we teach children that it is unacceptable. And then, they feel less worthy because at times they are angry.

Anger is another fact of life -- one of the many emotions human beings are heir to.

The most difficult hostility to accept is that directed toward ourselves. We understand irritations toward friends, brothers and sisters, situations, and perhaps even teachers, but somehow we believe we should be exempt.

Yet, parenthood means frustrating children on many occasions. From our point of view our various restrictions make sense. But to the child our limits may not. If we only see "our part of the elephant" then their anger seems unjustifed. It's a matter of whose viewpoint you take. You don't have to change your position on a stand you take, but can you understand your child's point of view along with your own?

An example of how small children see parents was illustrated by a gifted group of four-year-olds. Their favorite topic for discussion was "How to Get Along with Mothers"! Children have so much reason to feel angry toward us on so many occasions that if they never show it, they are probably hiding the feeling. From a child's point of view, we are hard to live with at times -- even the best of us.

The child who openly expresses hostility to you actually hands you a double bouquet. You have reared him with enough strength to stand up for himself; he's no wilted violet. And you have made him feel safe to express himself directly.

So, if your child says, "I don't like you," "You're mean," or "I wish I had someone else for a mother (father)," pat yourself on the back and stay with his feelings. He'll take you behind the code and then you can deal with the real issues -- the primary emotions.

Your Child's Self-Esteem
pages 202-203

[from the softbound edition]

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