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Good, better, best advice for parents on children’s work

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Nanette Franco-Diyco

THERE IS THIS book entitled Good, Better, Best (published by Scepter Publishers of New York in 2013) that has been such a great influence on mothers in the US and here in our country. It was therefore no surprise that it has just been translated into Spanish as Bien, Mejor, Excelente!, published by Ediciones Rialp of Madrid, Spain.


Good, better, best advice for parents on children’s work

The book is written by Dr. Esther Esteban, a mother of four children and a member of the faculty of the University of Asia & the Pacific (UA&P). Since we are about to celebrate the birthday of Our Blessed Mother Mary, I thought it would be timely to feature Good, Better, Best, a book which is concretely helping mothers, fathers, caregivers, and educators to develop positive work-related habits among the children under their care. Call it a beautiful gift to the Blessed Virgin.

Dr. Esteban explains, “While understanding of work is a prerequisite, application is its natural follow-up.” She expands by saying that a nine-year-old may know she has to do her homework, but how well does she complete the assignment? A five-year-old may understand that he has to clean up his toys, but how does he approach his task?

An adolescent on the school football team may memorize the plays, but how responsible is he about going to practice? A teenager may be very sensitive to belongingness in a group, but how good a team player is he? A preteen may follow a homework routine faithfully, but does she go about her studies with gloom and reluctance? Dr. Esteban stressed that children’s actions give clues to their development of work-related virtues.




Virtues are human qualities. They are good habits that are developed over time until they are practiced naturally, easily, quickly, constantly, and readily. Virtues are acquired through continuing and intense training, conscious effort, and repetition until they become the automatic way of doing things.

In Good, Better, Best, Dr. Esteban focuses on five specific work-related virtues: diligence, order, responsibility, cooperation, and cheerfulness. She calls them the building blocks of good work, not random or occasional attempts to tackle a task. Rather, they are purposeful and sustained approaches to do a good job that have taken time and considerable effort to develop.

Dr. Thomas Lickona, a developmental psychologist and author of Character Matters and an internationally renowned expert in character education, says: “We’ve been waiting for a book like this — one that recognizes the central role of good work habits in child development and gives us concrete ways to foster such habits. Through clear guidelines and rich, real-life examples from all developmental levels, Esther Esteban shows us how to help our children acquire the virtues that will help them grow into happy, responsible adults.

Good, Better, Best is a sequel to 2009’s The Work of Children, published by Scepter Publishers in New York, and winner of the Catholic Mass Media Awards. Her first book lays the groundwork for a deeper appreciation of how children internalize positive attitudes towards work. Work is identified as “a dynamic universal process; any decent worthwhile human activity; a means to earn a living; a channel to develop individual capabilities and talents; a means to human perfection and sanctity; a means to transform someone or something; and to help and be of service.”

For the child, work translates into a task, an activity, process, duty, challenge, or an opportunity that finds its outlets in play, study, chores, hobbies, sports, and other extracurricular activities.

Both books are terrific, easy, informative reads that inform and challenge the concerned mother and educator. Take a bow, Dr. Esteban.

Nanette Franco-Diyco ended her 15th year advertising career as Vice-President of JWT, segueing into the world of academe, currently teaching communications at the Ateneo de Manila University.

nanettediyco131@gmail.com









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