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When Self-esteem Is Too High

Self-esteem is something we all have to one degree or another. A balanced level of self-esteem helps us navigate through life’s challenges, make appropriate choices and interact in a positive way with other people. Problems with self-esteem come when it is either too high or too low. A previous post addressed the effects of low self-esteem. This post will tackle the problems associated with self-esteem that is too high.

Is This Really a Problem?

Yes. Just like low self-esteem can create all kinds of personal problems, high self-esteem can too. Teens with extremely high self-esteem can have serious problems with relationships, addiction and criminal behavior. These characteristics are often accompanied with impulse control problems, lack of empathy, and risky behavior. Teens with too high self-esteem tend to be arrogant, manipulative and bullying. Thinking only of themselves, these teens often take what they want not caring how it affects the people around them.

Some Characteristics to Look For

  1. Arrogant and self-Indulgent

  2. Abusive behavior in relationships

  3. Bullying and manipulative

  4. Impulse control problems

  5. Unable to recognize own faults

  6. Unwilling to change

  7. Unrealistic view of abilities

  8. Prone to risky behavior

  9. A sense of entitlement

  10. Reacts angrily to criticism

  11. Deceive themselves and others

Creating Feel-good Kids

Isn’t high self-esteem supposed to be good? For many years parents were instructed to make their kids feel good about themselves. Build-up the esteem so kids could feel positive about themselves took priority. However, this approach lead to kids growing up with unrealistic expectations and unhealthy attitudes. Today, an entire generation kids have grown up with unrealistic views of themselves, over-inflated egos, and an unhealthy sense of entitlement.

Are Parents to Blame?

Although parents can take some of the blame, much of it comes from the changes in society as a whole. The media leads the way with a battery of shows involving self-absorbed actors and so-called ‘reality’ shows. These individuals in the media do much to shape the behavior of teens who want to conform to society norms and emulate behaviors they see on TV.

Although media has a strong influence, parents are in the drivers seat when it comes to affecting the behavior of their kids. Parents can take effective measures to help their kids change their attitudes and have a more balanced approach to life.

Getting Back to an Appropriate Level of Self-esteem

What parents can do is eliminate some of their contributions to the problem. Don’t spoil your kids. That may mean cutting down on praise and nurturing, giving kids and teens more honest evaluations. The Love And Logic Methodology is filled with excellent parenting ideas that lead to a healthy level of self-esteem.

Parents can also talk to their kids about the images and people they see in the media and point out bad behavior. For younger kids, restricting access to shows that create the wrong values helps avoid problems down the road.

Boundaries are also important for teens. Creating clear and consistent boundaries has a very positive effect on teens. When parents create clear boundaries, it help teens feel loved,  and helps them regulate their behavior.

Is Treatment Required?

Often when teens end up in clinical environments, it is not for too high self-esteem. They get there because of their behavior, whether it is drug use, stealing, or violence. In the treatments that follow, the psychologist will need to work with the individual to identify and treat the underlying issues. Quite often, too high a self-esteem is a part of the issues confronting these teens.

The Goal is to Have a Healthy Self-Esteem

Both low and high self-esteem lead to problems. Parents can help their kids develop appropriate levels of self-esteem through Love And Logic parenting methods and not pampering their kids too much. Then, as the kids grow into teens, they will have a solid background in what is acceptable behavior. They will be able to make good choices and build positive relationships.

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