Byline: Judith Cookis Daily Herald Staff Writer
Teens who commit unthinkable acts of violence at school must have low self-esteem.
Sounds logical, right?
Wrong, says Tom Phelan, a clinical psychologist from Glen Ellyn.
Phelan, the author of several books on child discipline and Attention Deficit Disorder, spoke to parents Thursday at a meeting of the Glenbard Township District 87 Citizens Advisory Council group in Glendale Heights.
Research shows that violent teens and adults have extraordinarily high self-esteem, Phelan said.
"They think they're God and you're a worm," Phelan said.
He also rejects society's push to pin youth crime, teen pregnancies and drug use on poor self-esteem.
"Inferring low self-esteem in people has become an American pastime," Phelan said.
Instead of herding kids into self-esteem groups with school counselors, parents and teachers should try to help teens reach their goals and dreams.
"Success causes self-esteem, not the other way around," he said.
Parents should try to be warm but demanding. Give praise when it's deserved, but don't be afraid to set limits, he said. …