Self-Esteem and Beyond: Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld


Dan Brodsky-Chenfield

Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld survived a plane crash which killed sixteen of the twenty-two people on board.  He was left critically injured and woke up from a six-week-long coma with a broken neck, cracked skull, severe head trauma, a collapsed lung and other serious internal injuries.  Against all odds, Dan recovered and went on to lead the USA 4 and 8 person Skydiving Teams to multiple World Championships.  He also put together a team of 300 skydivers and set a new World Record for the largest Freefall Formation.

We recently had the opportunity to talk with Dan about his new book, as well as ask him a few questions on how to build self-esteem in children to brighten their lives both inside and out.  When he’s not coaching, Dan now travels around the world speaking to parents, teachers and groups of all kinds about how to overcome adversity, build great teams, and deliver your best performance.  He was happy to share his inspirational message with the Reading Kingdom community below:


RK:      What’s the best way to build self-esteem in children?

DBC: Show them undconditional love.  Kids need to know that our love and opinion of them is not dependent upon how successful they are in school, sports or anything.  We love them for just being them.  When they are learning any particular task give them achievable goals that match their abilities.  Goals that aren’t measured against how other kids are doing with the same tasks.  Create the opportunity that lets them experience one small success at a time.  This will set them up to feel better about themselves and to be excited about taking on new challenges.


RK:      What would be your advice on how to recover from setbacks?

DBC: First understand that there will always be setbacks.  No process of significant learning is without them.  When there are setbacks we often get so caught up in them that we forget about our successes.  Very often we can learn more about how to fix what we did wrong by looking at what we did right.  Look first to see if there was something you were doing right that you didn’t do when you were hit with the setback.  Then evaluate what you did wrong and make a plan for how to correct it.  And most importantly understand this, there is nothing as cool as being someone that never, ever gives up.  It’s awesome to be a fighter.


RK:       How do you get kids to work in a team effectively?

DBC: Teammates are people with a common goal who need eachother to achieve it.  Make sure the kids understand that they can’t succeed unless their teammates succeed.  For them to win they need to become the teammate their teammates need them to be.  When you look at it like this, even the most selfish of kids will see that its in his best interest to be a good teammate.  In the process of providing the emotional support and encouragments his teammates need this selfish kid feels what it’s like to be appreciated, loved and respected for being a trusted teammate.  Though originally spawned from selfish motivation he now becomes a supportive, compassionate person and can’t help but like himself more because of it.   In other words, we tricked him!

Dan’s inspirational book, Above All Else, makes a great holiday gift as it’s not only a first hand account of his amazing comeback story, it’s also chock full of practical tips.

Did you know that the Reading Kingdom reading programs for kids is scientifically designed to boost children’s self-esteem and will to learn? Click here to sign up for a 30 day free trial today.

“Using this reading program, my son’s reading skills have been raised to a level well beyond his grade.  I cannot credit the Reading Kingdom enough for raising my son’s self-esteem and guiding him on a path to achieving his full potential.” – V.W. Shiah, M.D. and parent

For more self-esteem activities for children, see our activities for kids page.