http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/living/2002144948_selfesteem08.html For years, building a child's self-esteem was considered one of parenting's highest goals. Now the phrase is so linked with the feel-good movement that "in some quarters, self-esteem has a negative connotation," said Robert Brooks, a psychology professor at Harvard Medical School. "Some people think self-esteem is about letting kids do whatever they want and never letting them face adversity," said Brooks, co-author of "Raising Resilient Children: Fostering Strength, Hope and Optimism in Your Child." He switched his emphasis from self-esteem to resiliency since that offers "less opportunity for distortion." Self-esteem can be an empty value if it's not tempered with a sense of responsibility and social awareness, experts say. "Drug dealers and violent criminals usually feel good about themselves because they control their environment," said Rich Catalano, director of the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington. "You probably know people with good self-esteem that you can't stand. That's not really the kind of person we want to encourage." A wide review of self-esteem studies, published in a 2003 edition of the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, found both the highest and lowest rates of cheating and bullying in different sub-categories of high self-esteem. "Self-esteem comes out to a zero if you include both kinds of [negative and positive] behavior," Catalano said. "It's really about how you get to feeling good about yourself." ... The review, led by Florida State University professor Roy Baumeister, concluded studies haven't shown good self-esteem improves academic, personal or professional achievement. Doing well in those areas, however, helps people value themselves more. Confusing cause-and-effect in this arena could backfire. ... The focus on "loving me because I'm me" ignored important values such as loyalty, honesty and compassion, Elliott said. He notes that people with low or very high self-esteem actually share a prominent trait: They're self-absorbed. Any attempt to boost these kids' self view just encourages more navel gazing, he said.