Dr Michael Hall, PhD talks about fostering self-esteem, self-confidence and leadership skills in our kids. He is a psychologist and visionary leader in the field of Neuro-Semantics and Self-Actualization Psychology. He works as an entrepreneur, researcher/modeler, and international trainer. He has doctorate is in the Cognitive-Behavioral sciences from Union Institute University. He wrote several books with Richard Bandler, the genious behind the NLP, and has since then written more than 40 books, many best-sellers.
How do you raise healthy children and what are some of the keys to it?
I’m gonna give you five and these are just five things that I think will be useful and helpful.
The first one is distinguish self-esteem from self-confidence. Most psychology books to this day still do not distinguish self-esteem from self-confidence, what’s the difference? Self-esteem being esteem or appraisal about a person, a being, the other is about what we do and confidence in what we do; so one is a judgment, one is a feeling. I always like asking people “Where do you feel self-esteem?”. “When I feel confident that I can do something” well, so I think about something I can do is scrambled eggs… y’all suckers gonna get scrambled. You know, I’m confident… it’s a feeling, there’s muscle tension, there’s breath, there’s a certain facial when I look and there’s a voice of confident. But where do you feel self-esteem? It’s a judgment, it’s an appraisal, it’s a judgment of someone’s value as a personal. Well, how much is a person worth? What are they going for these days? So self-esteem is about the appraisal, the worth of a person so if we separate person from behavior, if we distinguish who I am, my being from my doing, self-esteem is an appraisal of my worth and value. How much am I worth? How much is a newborn baby worth? Well, we say they’re unconditionally unconditional positive regard, unconditional self value. So if it’s unconditional, then it’s not high or low. So I would encourage you as parents not to use the phrase “do you have high self-esteem?”, “is your self-esteem getting higher?” because if it’s getting higher, if you get lower, it’s conditional. Conditional what? Looks? Intelligence? Money? Strength? Social skills?
What is conditional?
Well, if it’s conditional you could lose it because it’s conditional but if it’s unconditional, if it’s unconditional, then there’s no conditions it just is; the value, the worth is a given. So by separating person and behavior by distinguishing self-esteem and self-confidence now I can make… now I can do the self-esteeming and in contradistinction to self-confidence and feeling good, strong about whatever it is you like to do. So that’ll be the first thing, distinguish person from behavior and once you distinguish person from behavior now, we can do unconditional self-esteeming. If we don’t make that distinction, if we confuse the two and most psychology books, most self-help books still confuse the two. You’ll see articles in sunday papers “How to raise your self-esteem” and what do they tell you? Well, read and be friendly and make friends and well, that’s all about confidences — that’s confidences and things. So if we’re going to really make that distinction and treat our children as unconditionally valuable no matter what they do, no matter what grades they get, no matter what things they go through, they’re unconditionally valuable. So we separate person and behavior to confuse them, to identify you are what you do, you are what you feel, I am my emotions, you are what you think, well to identify is going to create unsanity. I get that from Alfred Korzybski, he wrote the book Science and Sanity and he said that when we identify things that are different, it’s a form of unsanity and continuing that process it will lead to insanity. So distinguishing person from behavior — once we make that distinction — now I can do unconditional positive regard and if it’s unconditional then it can’t be higher or lower, it just is. You as a person are valuable. So how do we do that as parents?
When I raised my daughter Jessica I became a single parent when she was three years old and raised her till she was 26 and only got her out of the house. But as she was growing up, I found the language to say to her frequently. She would go out to play soccer, she wasn’t really athletic but she go out, she play when she was seven or eight, when she was 10 or 11. And so she go out and she was on a team and if the team lost I said, “So whatever happens today, no matter if you win or lose you’re just as lovable, just as precious, you’re just as valuable as if you’ve had won or whatever” to make that distinction between what you do and who you are. So when she would have upsets when her friends didn’t invite her to a certain party or when something else didn’t go the way she wanted to, I always made it clear that who you are as a person I love, you’re precious, you can become more precious, it’s unconditional; now what you do is quite conditional. So distinguishing those two I think is really important. That then let’s us be free to go do all kinds of things if your self-esteem is not on the line, if your self-esteem is on the line by the grades you get, by the friends you have, by whether your team wins or not, by whether you’re cool in school or not. If it’s conditioned, then the self-esteem is always on the line therefore, you’re under existential threat constantly. So by separating that we actually have freedom — go try that, go see what happens, see if you’re good at that. So the first thing is distinguish person and behavior.
The second one is give unconditional positive regard and it sounds so easy, it’s not as easy as it sounds. But once you have that belief that they’re valuable, it’s a given, nobody gave it to them, nobody can take it away once it’s a given.
The third one would be let’s now said help them search for and find their uniqueness. What can you do? What are you good at? Everybody is not good at lots of things. Everybody’s incompetent. Nobody is the Renaissance person who is good at everything. Everybody is incompetent about something. What are you incompetent about? Can you feel good about yourself even though you’re incompetent? If you have unconditional self-esteem you can because your self-esteem, your self value worth is a given, now you’re free to find out what you can do and to face reality straight on “I’m not good at that, it’s okay. I don’t have to be good at everything” so now we can embrace their uniqueness.
Now, one of my strengths is studying and school. I love school when I was in school and did pretty well so academics came pretty easily. With my daughter Jessica, they didn’t come easy and what I discover, what she discovered was that she’s really creative so she loves playing the violin, she learned to play the violin and she loves the drawings, she can get lost in Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and all the creative… She went up to california one time and spend some time with some friends and ended up going to one of those Renaissance restaurants where in in the middle they ride horses and fight with swords. She said… she came back, “That’s what I want to be when I grow up!”. A few years later, I walked into her bedroom and she had bought this sword. It’s real, live, full-length sword. As a parent, learning to not live my life through her is I think really, really important. I have to embrace her uniqueness and support and be a friend to her uniqueness. So as a parent, I can’t live my life through my children and so wanting so much for our children.
I remember my father he was a mathematician, he was a teacher and he wanted me to go into mathematics. In fact, when I was in high school he wanted me to take all the mathematic courses so I took the mathematic courses and he wanted me to go on this new field called computers and I said “there’s no future in that” and I think he was disappointed when my interest was in psychology and other things. So our children have their own lives and so being able to embrace whatever their interest is, being a friend to it and one of the dangers of all of us as parents, we sometimes want so much for them, we want them and sometimes we live our lives through them and impose on them. So being able to separate that… what are you good at? What makes you feel alive? What are some of the talents and the predispositions that are clamoring inside ready to be unleashed? Standing by and supporting them through that process even if we don’t understand it, if you don’t understand it. So by separating person and behavior, validating their worth and their lovability, their person unconditionally and then embracing their uniqueness and helping them to find that so they can take responsibility for their own life. So one of the things oftentimes under that one is that we care so much, we love so much, we want to nurture so much, we don’t let them fall on their face, we don’t let them learn from consequences, we don’t let them…we keep saving them and rescuing them.
So how do we raise healthy children?
Well, sometimes letting life be what life is and helping them have the resources for being resilient and stepping back and finding their own personal powers and their skills for handling those kinds of things. So I mentioned that she left at 26. Oh! she was getting really comfortable. In fact, I was traveling a lot I come home to her house. I’d move a chair “dad, what are you doing?” I said, “It is my house!”. And I said, “Well, you need to get out, you need to get an apartment or you need to get… pay bills, develop your own credit and everything” so we finally got her out, she’s down in Phoenix now working and she bought her first car while she was down there. So helping our children get on the wrong feet so that they can be fully functioning human beings and living the life that they want to live.
The next thing I would say in raising healthy children is knowing and understanding and embracing the developmental stages… the developmental stages. So the first stage is the stage of trust. This is Piaget’s work. Piaget, Erikson and the others mapped out the mental stages, the social stages, the developmental stages the children go through and the first one is trust. Is the world trustworthy? Do the caretakers… do they take care? Can I trust my life into their hands? The second one is industry. Industry starts around nine months, 12 months and as children become mobile and they start moving and you have to kid proof the house because they’re gonna get into stuff. Industry… do you allow it? Or do you keep preventing them from getting into stuff and finding out how things worked and finding their own skills and strengths coz they can create such a mess. And so the question maybe: a messy house and a child is learning his or her own industry or a perfect house that’s well taken cared of and looks perfect all the time but the child is as were in bond and not allowed to really develop. During that industry period that’s when the child goes through the no’s and what they’re doing is just individuating… they’re just individuating when they say, “no, no, no”. Well before they say the “no”, they do the “no” as their way of individuating. Ooooh that’s what’s happening, they’re individuating. They go through that in the teenage years once again as they now have to distinguish themselves and individuate and differentiate themselves from everybody else and it’s just a developmental stage. I’ve met adults who couldn’t say no. I’ve met adults in our trainings who said okay say no and set a boundary well, they can’t do that because it was tabooed, it was forbidden, it was prohibited as a child and now as an adult they have to learn to say no and set those boundaries. So this is that industry period of time as a child is becoming more and more him or herself. So knowing the developmental stages and then being able to embrace them and to work with them so that we don’t impose a lot of unrealistic adult impositions upon our children when they are just going through their stages… they go through a lot of different stages so embracing those stages and welcoming them. The fifth thing I think and, maybe, the most important is in raising healthy children is be a healthy adult. Yvonne spoke about this and Rosalynn spoke about this…being the model, being the healthy adult. Most of…I don’t know the different generations we have here but you you may never have… I never experienced my father and mother coming out and saying “we’ve got a problem” and and inviting me to see a weakness, a vulnerability so so being open, being real, being authentic with our children so you can see our ups and downs and that life is not just perfect. Being authentic, being healthy so that we’re healthy with our emotions, we’re healthy with the way we persevere, the way we are resilient, the way we treat other people and so as they go through their stages, if they have a healthy role model in you, I think that’s one of the really great ways to raise healthy children by modeling it. Now the danger is we don’t to invite them into adult issues before they’re ready for that so it has to be age-appropriate wherever they are. But inviting them to see your authenticity and so those are five things. I’m gonna stop cause I’d like to have lots of questions, interactions. So those are five things I think that would really make that distinct, that process of raising healthy children. So…