Question: You say beauty and intelligence are the most critical factors in shaping self-esteem and confidence. What other influences contribute to the child's level of self-confidence?
Dr. Dobson: Let me list some of the more common variables that relate to self-worth in our culture:
1. Parents have a remarkable power to preserve or damage the self-esteem of a child. Their manner either conveys respect and love or disappointment and disinterest.
2. Older siblings can crush the confidence of a younger, weaker child. The little one never can run as fast, or fight as well, or achieve as much as his big brothers and sisters.
And if his words are perpetually matters of scorn, he easily can conclude that he is foolish and incapable.
3. Early social blunders and mistakes are sometimes extremely painful, being remembered throughout a lifetime.
4. Financial hardship, depriving a child of the clothes and lifestyle of his peers, can cause a child to feel inferior. It is not the poverty itself that does the damage. Rather, it is the relative comparison with others.