|Night bike training…|
We have an ambitious goal to teach Dana to ride a two wheeler by the end of the year but the first few training sessions didn’t go as well as we had hoped. Daddy had simply removed the extra training wheel from her existing bicycle and hope she can master the art of balancing on a two wheeler through repeated trial and errors. Standing on the sideline cheering her on, I could sense her frustrations and disappointments…Her self-confidence took a good bashing and she kept grumbling, ‘I can’t do it!” This same pattern surfaced again few days later when she was building her LEGO friends set which she received as birthday gift. She would let out inaudible sighs while shaking her head and lament, ‘I am not good at this…’ This sounded an alarm for us. Might this be an early sign of her poor self-esteem? Or a lack of self-confidence when faced with new challenges?
Childhood is a precious but extremely fleeting period where they accumulate experiences which either build or hinder their self-esteem. We cannot underestimate the importance of a healthy self-esteem even from as young as preschoolers. Experiences in childhood form the bedrock for our child’s self-beliefs and this in turn have tremendous impact on how they function and relate to the world when they eventually enter the adolescent years.
Situations with siblings, peers, teachers or stress with learning experiences, pressures in mastering a new skill, new instrument, new language etc. all affect a child’s self-esteem and contribute to how they perceive themselves. It is impossible for parents to be there every step of the way to mitigate the negative influences and experiences that bombard them daily. Adults in their lives may also subconsciously act in ways that make the child feels invalidated and humiliated, hence diminishing their sense of self-worth. As parents, we have the sacred responsibility to put character building and the cultivating of a healthy self-esteem as one, if not, THE MOST important parenting goals. Using appropriate language and right ways of responding will go a long way in building a child’s self-assurance and confidence. Our children need to know that we believe in them; that it’s alright to fail, it’s OK to make mistakes for failures maketh a man and perseverance produces results.
I’ll like to share 10 Self-Esteem Boosters which I find useful from this article by psychologist Laura Kaufman. Are you currently practising any of them?
#1 Let your kids know they’re the sun, moon, and stars to you
Feeling “lovable” is the core of having self-esteem and the best way to feel lovable is to feel loved. As often as you can, tell your kids directly how dear they are to you. Take every chance you get to hug your children and let them know that you’re proud of them and love them. Kids need to know they are treasured and that there is nothing they could ever do to make you stop loving them.
#2 ‘Catch’ them being successful
When you give positive, accurate feedback your child is likely to do more of the same. Look for opportunities to praise your children. Be very specific when praising kids and try to avoid “blanket praise”.
#3 Criticize carefully
Never name-call, berate, belittle or compare one child to another. Be sure they understand that you’re concerned or frustrated about their behavior, not who they are as a person.
#4 Accept that your child’s not perfect – and help her do the same
Don’t ignore negative comments kids make about themselves. Talk through their feelings with them to help them get on a more positive path. If a child says, “I can’t do math. I’m a bad student,” a helpful response might be: “You are a good student. Math is just a subject that you need to spend more time on. We’ll work on it together.”
#5 Set clear limits
Kids thrive in an environment where their grown-ups have realistic expectations, clear cut rules, and logical consequences. Communicate directly to let them know what the rules are, why they’re in place, and what consequences they’ll face if the rules are broken.
#6 Help your kids express their thoughts and emotions.
Help kids experience their emotions in a healthy way without censoring or judging their reaction or problems.
#7 Be present with your children
Try to set aside a certain amount of time, even if it is only five or ten minutes a day, to give your child your full, undivided attention. Remember that you do not have to fix everything; the child may just need to air his or her feelings. And being heard is a big part of developing self-esteem.
#8 Help your child learn from mistakes
Make sure your child knows that making mistakes is part of life. Encourage your kids to take appropriate risks even if it means that they make mistakes. When parents encourage risk taking and accept failure, they are teaching kids how to be kind and patient with themselves, which is essential to their self-esteem.
#9 Be a positive role model by nurturing your own self-esteem
When appropriate, talk to your kids about your own life and feelings. When your child hears stories about you taking risks, surviving failure, or doing something that made you proud of yourself, they’re likely to try to do the same in their own lives.
#10 Encourage a sense of humour! Daddy would like to sneak in this tip of his own. Humour can be developed early on in a home where laughter is abundant. A sense of humour will enable our children to be less critical of their own (and others’) shortcomings, mistakes and failures. The ability to laugh at ourselves will also make them a less cynical, less perfectionist and less impatient person. Having a sense of humour enhances interpersonal skills and help them get along better with their peers. After all, we all love to be around people who makes us laugh and at ease, don’t we?
Dana on Balance Bike 1
This evening after dinner, Daddy urged Dana to have another try on her balance bike. Under Daddy’s constant encouragement, she is slowly conquering her fears and getting the hang of how to maneuver the balance bike. We celebrate little successes with her and cheer for her madly. It will be months (perhaps even years?) before she can eventually ride a two wheeler independently but that’s not as important as helping our daughter realise that she has the ability to achieve a goal if she does not give up…and in the process, helping her to feel good and confident about herself.