A composite of research findings (Baumeister, 1993) described that people of low self-esteem have these tendencies: confused about themselves, uncertain, submitting readily to other people’s influence, and lacking in self-confidence. Not exactly what we want for our kids.

A later review of literature (Baumeister, Smart, and Boden, 1996) linked high self-esteem to violence. “Murderers, rapists, wife-beaters. . .and other categories of violent people are all marked by strongly held views of their own superiority.” The highest self-esteem scores come from people in prison. They appear to have no respect for anyone else. Obviously, we don’t want this for our kids either.

It seems that low self-esteem is bad for the self, and high self-esteem is linked to treating others badly, even leading to violence. What do we want for our kids? At the risk of sounding “religious,” let’s try instilling in our children a high esteem for God.

Ephesians 4:18 (The Message)

They’ve refused for so long to deal with God

that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself.

They can’t think straight anymore.


Respect God; respect others. Love God; love others. It is a trickle-down of reality that affects all relationships. The Spirit of God causes us to love others; it is that simple.


Centering on self is always a problem, a sin. When we are overly concerned about how our kids feel about themselves, we encourage them to sin. We forfeit the most important truth that ties them to reality and wholeness: how they relate to God. Created in His image, adopted into his family, we are called to lay down our lives for the benefit of others.


Raising our children with an awareness of others is crucial. Respect and value for others comes from God. Jesus said, “As you have done to the least, you have done to me.”


People who esteem God above themselves have changed the world. They have brought wholeness into broken cultures, built hospitals, and introduced education.


Our main goal as parents is to teach our children to deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Jesus. As we train our children to lay aside their own desires in order to do the will of God, we create a better world. An unselfish world. A blessed world.