Self-Esteem Much Overrated, Expert Tells Glenbard Parents

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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. …