Sivan 16
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Sivan 16

A father transmits to his son beauty, strength, wealth, wisdom, and longevity (Eidiyos 2:9).

While some character traits, or at least tendencies to certain traits, appear to have a genetic factor, the lion's share of attitudes are learned. Undoubtedly the most significant influence on a child is his parents' attitudes, rather than their genetic composition.

One psychologist said, "If you have given your child self-confidence, you have given him everything. If you have not given your child self-confidence, then regardless of whatever else you have given, you have given nothing."

The crucial question is: What should parents do to help their child develop self-confidence? While many fine books suggest techniques to avoid common practices that depress a child's self-esteem, one factor overrides all else: self-esteem is contagious. Parents who feel secure about themselves will convey an attitude of security and self-confidence to their children. Parents who are insecure and anxiety-ridden are not likely to foster self-confidence in their children, regardless of how many books on parenting they may have absorbed.

As with so much else, the place to begin is with ourselves. By far the most effective way to instill a positive sense of self-awareness in our children is by developing our own self-awareness which will both lead to the discovery of our strengths and skills, and will reveal existing deficits that may then be corrected. Not only will the parents then transmit their self-esteem, the children may also benefit by observing the methods that their parents use to achieve positive feelings about themselves.

Today I shall...

try to enhance my self-esteem and overcome my anxieties and insecurities.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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