Hurray for ME!
Posted October 31, 2011on:
We often hear the terms self-esteem & self-concept and wonder how these labels apply to our children. We read articles that advise us to acknowledge and praise everything our child does and we read articles that tell us not to. This gets confusing. Sadly, we also read articles that tell the stories of children being callous and intentionally mean to others – and we are confused about this as well. How does that happen? What can we do?
Our job with young children is to give them the tools they need to feel good about themselves and to see the world as a trustworthy and caring place to be. This will set them up for success in a confusing world that is filled with mixed messages.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Children who feel good about themselves – who have a positive self concept – are more likely to feel good about their world. They take the time to make friends and to be a friend. They take more responsibility for their actions and find pleasure in relationships. They see their world as a friendly, secure place. They have skills they need to confront obstacles and make good choices. A positive sense of self is a strong and critical tool that shapes a child’s world.
Building your child’s self-esteem doesn’t cost a thing. It is an investment of commitment, attention, time and unconditional love. The return lasts a lifetime.
Some simple ideas to start:
- Along with acknowledgement of big, obvious positive actions, “Catch you child being good”; pay attention to little things that your child does too. If these are routines (pushing a dinner chair in to the table, hanging a coat on the hook,) acknowledge success in this task. Don’t just praise the “big” picture. Celebrate small accomplishments. Surprise children with a hug, thumbs up and wink.
- Use specific language that lets children know exactly what has been a positive action: “Anne, nice job feeding the dog. He counts on you.” or “Mark, you really helped by setting the table with me. Thank you.”
- Encourage and support beginning positive friendships.
- Model kindness, problem solving, conflict resolution and safe choices. Use language to talk through these significant issues that are really part of every day.
- Be a sounding board and safe haven for your children – always have an ear to listen, a voice of reason and a shoulder to cry on.
When we take time out of our schedules to really listen to our children and talk with them about their interests and ideas, we are telling them they are important and worthwhile.
Everyone needs to feel appreciated and loved. Small children thrive on it. It’s how they build confidence. We send messages to our children all the time. Eye contact, smiling, bending down to their level, and holding them in our arms or on our laps shows them they have our attention.
Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right. ~Henry Ford
-Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director