A young child, Janet, skipped home from school. "I got 100% on my spelling test. I'm smart," she crowed to her sister and friends.
She was intelligent. She could read well above grade level. She had memorized her times tables, and she was only in second grade. Janet had very good self esteem. She knew she was smarter than the other kids.
But Janet weasled out of housework as often as she could. She was also quick to run outside to play when there were dishes to clean up or vacuuming to be done.
Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment. Thomas Carlyle
Her older sister, Sophia, usually got 85% on her spelling tests. She struggled to learn her times tables in fourth grade. She read at grade level, but she wasn't the best in her class. She was just happy to be one of the crowd.
However, Sophia was very compassionate. She loved helping her younger sister, Melissa, dress for preschool every morning. She helped her mother set the table and get dinner on. She always told her family, "I love you" when she went off to school or out to play.
Sophia seemed to know when someone needed a hug or a smile.
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. Dalai Lama
These two sisters were very different. Janet had terrific self esteem, at times feeling like she was better than the other kids. Sophia loved being part of the group, and her compassion drew her to befriend those around her.
So what do you want to teach your children? Is self-esteem more important than compassion, or is compassion what you want to emphasize?
Do kids with high self esteem feel like they are better than other children?
Are compassionate children taken advantage of?
Even though these are the questions we ask ourselves, I think they are the wrong questions. We need to ask ourselves how we can influence our children become the best they can be.
The wise mother of these two girls helped them to modify their natures and learn from each other. This family emphasized cooperation rather than competition and both the girls worked to become better than they were.
1. Janet continued to do well in school.
2. She had daily assignments to help with dinner and other chores around the house.
3. At her mother's urging, she spent time reading to her little sister and playing with her.
1. Sophia continued to help others whenever she saw a need.
2. She had daily assignments to get her homework done and study a little extra.
3. At her mother's urging, she practiced her math facts until she knew them perfectly.
Both these girls had characteristics that enhanced the family. As they worked together, a synergistic relationship developed so that each of them benefited from talents of the other.
The spirit of cooperation brings synergy to all those who embrace it.