Feel good about yourself

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By The Staff

This week we look at Asset #38, Self-Esteem. According to the Search Institute, “Youth are more likely to grow up healthy when they have high self-esteem.” Nationally, only 52 percent of youth feel like they have this Asset in their lives.

The funny thing is when we mention the words self-esteem, there’s almost an audible groan. There’s nothing wrong with having self-esteem, but when you don’t have it, a lot seems to go wrong.

I can recall a story in the news about a school that posted signs in the restrooms that said something like. “You are wonderful.” It was a bit overboard at the time, but the truth is, it was probably meant for all of those kids that never get to hear it anywhere else.

I worked with a school once that took the time to recognize every student for an achievement during the course of the year. Some parents found the idea ridiculous, but at least those kids would have an award to hang on the fridge or frame on the wall.

Self-esteem doesn’t mean looking perfect, making great grades or being a super athlete. It does mean being recognized for something you do well or for just doing a good job. All youth need to feel competent about something they do.

It also doesn’t mean being overly praised for everything you do. If everything is perfect and special and wonderful, then everything just seems average. It is the reason, for example in sports, that there is an awards assembly at the end of the year. You do a great job during every game and you can be told that, but the medal only comes after the long haul, the big effort, the dedication.

The Science Fair this weekend was an excellent example. The students worked hard to prepare, research, data and ready themselves for the interview. Parents, scientist and volunteers throughout the community pulled together to spend many preparing for the big event. The result is that the students that never participated before will probably be rewarded for their efforts with prizes.

Groups like Kiwanis, the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, Kiwanis, Beta Sigma Phi chapters, the Parent Hawks from the middle school and elementary and school PTO s help out by providing prizes to award students not just for their effort, but in many cases for their extra efforts.

This year, fourth and fifth grade students were allowed to display their projects, not to be judged, but just to take that first step on the path. This required that the students arranged to drop off their projects on a Friday night and return on Saturday for pick up.

They were rewarded with a snazzy shirt that many will proudly display on Monday when the school bell rings. They were also entered for a chance to win some special prizes. This simple act, this small gesture in some measure will increase their self esteem. They came, they saw, they conquered and who knows what budding scientist may bloom as a result.

While the extra thought to the process may have been within the job description of Science Far Coordinator Dawn Brown, the job benefit by seeing the smiles that day were a perk not covered in the employee handbook.

Bernadette Lauritzen is the Coordinator of the Assets In Action program, sponsored by the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board. AIA will sponsor an indoor miniature golf tournament on Feb. 28. Learn more at www.AssetsInAction.info.