Does it drive you to despair to hear your kids moan, "I'm so dumb, I never get anything right, no one likes me and I don't blame them"? And are you growing beyond frustrated as they stubbornly cling to their negative self-images in the face of your best attempts to reason with them?
Before doing anything further, take a good look at your own habits and consider whether your children may have learned self-dislike from you. If you want to build a family of confident achievers, make a regular point of emphasizing and living by the following principles.
The world is full of timid souls who only attempt what they're certain they can succeed at, because they fear the sting of humiliation and disappointment. By "protecting" themselves from small failures, they condemn themselves to the great failure of lives that never achieve their potential-and the more they avoid challenges, the more they convince themselves that they are destined to always fail and have nothing to gain by even trying. Be willing to live as though "never giving up" were the sole measure of success-because it is.
Many people-parents in particular-play the "Don't bother trying, you'll never make it" tune with all good intentions: they think they're protecting their loved one from the agony of inevitable disappointment. But in reality they're pushing their loved one toward the unhappy monotony of an "I can never succeed at anything meaningful" life-which often slides all the way into the conclusion, "I'm probably worthless anyway." Plus, discouraging someone else in this fashion means talking oneself further into the idea that "success" is the exclusive realm of a few lucky "others."
Few people enter major marathons with thoughts of "first place or bust": just finishing is adequate reward. That's a principle most of us could stand to apply to life in general. Never mind comparing yourself to other workers, homemakers, or parents-or your children to other students, athletes, or models of behavior. You'll do better, and enjoy life a lot more, by concentrating on doing your personal best.
If we don't expect toddlers to walk the first time without stumbling, why should we expect ten-year-olds to score 100 percent on every test-or ourselves to bowl 300 every time? What's really the more worthwhile achievement: doing something perfectly because we've already done it the exact same way a dozen times, or making even small progress on a brand new endeavor? Don't be afraid to set your sights high and climb the trial-and-error path.
As the saying goes, "God don't make no junk." You are no exception to that rule. Find what you do well, and use it to contribute positively to others' lives as well as your own. The world-and your children-will thank you for confidently being your best self!