...inspire their best!

All the Flowers of Tomorrow are in the Seeds Today

Building a good sense of self-esteem is more than just saying, “Good boy.” “Well-done.” “You are the very best at everything.” If we really want children to develop a strong sense of self esteem, we have to start by creating an environment that is rich with opportunities that germinate trust and positive relationships, and sow independence and success. These are the foundations that help build self-esteem.

Germinate trust by excavating positive relationships.

Let children know you believe in them, think they are worthwhile and unique. Value what they have to say or share with you. Support all their efforts even if they end in error. Correct their ways in the most gentle and positive ways as possible. “I see you are spending a lot of time at the sand table. It looks like you are really enjoying the sand. We must remember to keep the sand in the sandbox.”

Spread sensitivity throughout the day. Be aware of each child’s feelings when embarrassing things happen. Be casual and matter-of-fact when a child wets his pants or spills her milk.

Sprout a sense of humour and help a child feel good about himself. Sow some fun and laughter into each and every day. When children can enjoy being entertained and entertaining, they are on their way to developing a good sense of humour and self-esteem.

Plant the idea that it is OK for children to have and to express their feelings. Help them to deal with their feelings by allowing them appropriate outlets for their sometimes strong feelings. Reinforce their feelings and what they can do about it. “Charlie hit you on the head. That hurts. You can tell him ┬┤You don’t like it’” This helps build trust and good relations as well as acknowledging them as humans with feelings.

Sow independence and success

Encourage children to try new and different things. Supply them with opportunities where they can accomplish things on their own such as putting toys in marked bins or on low shelves. Give them choices they can make. “Do you want to paint or play with playdough?” “Do you want to tidy up now or in 5 minutes?”

Measure and make sure you have reasonable expectations of children at the different ages and stages of development. Recommended is the series of books by Louise Bates Ames, Your One Year Old, up to Your Seven Year Old .

Prepare children by letting them know what’s happening throughout the day. Let them know ahead of time when there is going to be a change in activity or routine. “After lunch we are going to visit Aunt Mavis.” “In five more minutes, when the lights flick, it will be time to tidy.”

Pick your words carefully. Be descriptive when acknowledging a child’s accomplishments or behaviour. When a child shows you her picture or finished work, instead of saying “Good work.” or “That’s a great picture”, invest in them a sense of accomplishment by describing specifically what you see, “I see you used a lot of red in this picture. You put it on the top and at the bottom.” This lets a child know you are looking at their picture or accomplishment in depth; that you are truly valuing what they have done which gives them an intrinsic feeling of self worth.

A genuine, positive self-image is a life-long developmental process that starts as early as birth. Spending time tilling the soil and planting seeds of value will reap the rewards of a harvest crop… children with self-esteem!

©Mary Stuart, E.C.E.D.H.