Some say self-esteem is the best thing you can give to a kid; others, like "Tiger Mama" Amy Chua, say we take praise too far.
A new field of research, however, suggests the focus on self-esteem is distracting parents from imparting a far more important life skill: self-compassion.
Often misunderstood as self-indulgent, self-compassion, as defined by pioneering researcher Kristin Neff of the University of Texas at Austin, has three aspects: mindfulness of your own thoughts and feelings, a sense of a common humanity and treating your self kindly. Neff's book, Self-Compassion (William Morrow, 2011), was released in April.
While artificially building self-esteem has recently been linked to a number of mental health problems, including narcissism and emotional fragility, self-compassion is associated with resilience, enhanced energy levels, creativity and general life success. (Pictured: Neff consoling her autistic son, Rowan.)
Here are five ways you can help your child develop this critical life skill.