It is important to support children’s confidence and self-esteem because it will help them grow into confident adults. Support will add value, faith and confidence and they will be more likely to lead a happy and productive adult life. Self-esteem is a way a child feels about themselves. Everyone has it in different degrees. A child with high self-esteem generally feels good about themselves and feels they have a lot to offer. A child with low or poor self-esteem generally feels worthless and that they have little to contribute. Without positive self-esteem it is highly unlikely that a child would have a full, happy and productive life.
The development of self-esteem starts very early in life. For example, when a child learns to walk or talk they feel a sense of having achieved something. Praise and encouragement at this point from parents, or people important in their life, boosts the positive feelings they have about themselves and encourages the child to go on achieving. Love, praise and encouragement are essential elements in helping a child develop a positive self-esteem. Be positive and affirming of the child/young person in all situations. Believe in the child/young person and show it – let them know they are a worthwhile, lovable individual. Give praise and positive feedback – children and young people measure their worth and achievements by what other people think of them.
For example, you might say “Well done, that was hard, and you managed it, clever boy/girl” Reassure them that it’s OK to make mistakes and that it’s all part of growing up. Avoid being too critical – this directly damages confidence. Acknowledge their feelings – and help them express their feelings in words. For example, encourage them to say, “I’m upset because…” or “I feel happy when…” Focus on strengths, not weaknesses highlight the things they are good at.
Respect the child’s interest’s comment to show you’re listening. Accept that their anxieties are real to them, e.g. fear of monsters in the dark – even if they seem trivial to you, don’t just brush them aside. Encourage independence – encourage them to take chances and try new things. Succeeding gives a huge boost to confidence, and sometimes they will need to learn by their mistakes. Focus on their successes, whatever they can succeed at. Don’t focus on their failures. Help children discover and develop their talents. Finding something that they are good at provides a huge boost to their feelings of self-worth.
Make sure your expectations of them are achievable and realistic. A small success boosts self-esteem while failures can chip away at their self-esteem. Make it easier for children to succeed and shine. If you are feeling particularly good about the child tell them. Children often hear negative comments but what you want them to remember and to take forward with them are positive thoughts. Sometimes small group works or just talking at circle time encouraging them to talk about things they enjoy. Help make them feel included in decision making and answer their questions in a thoughtful way
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