Self-esteem and respect building among pre-schoolers begins at an early stage. Starting from infancy, by the time of entering pre-school, children should establish a firm foundation of their self-esteem and self-respect that is going to serve as the base of their personality for an entire life. Development of self-esteem within children initiates with the positive attitude and environment they are born and brought up in. The author of Positive Discipline and the Family Therapist of California, Jane Nelsen advocated that “self-esteem comes from having a sense of belonging, believing that we’re capable, and knowing our contributions are valued and worthwhile”. As they are brought up with an positive outlook, children with better self-esteem tend to be more resilient and confident even in the face of hurdles. Thus, development of healthy self-esteem helps children to be optimistic towards life.
Self-esteem can be fostered in children at home, by parents and other family members, right from an early age with the right amount of nurturance and attitude. To encourage self-esteem and foster self-respect among kids, the parents need to make a start by themselves as follows:
- Be a role model- Children follow what they see at home. When parents at home are comfortable about their own roles, self-confident and less anxious about things, children tend to pick up the same attitude that help in fostering self-esteem in them.
- Feelings of belongingness- When children feels secure, assured and valued as a person in the family and not as a mere dependent personality, they tend to feel loved and develop a positive view regarding self.
- Encouraging a ‘Can-Do’ attitude- Children feel delighted and motivated even with small success. At the same time they tend to get upset with little failures encountered. To foster self-esteem and boost confidence always motivate children to take up new challenges and try hard every time without getting upset with any set-back.
- Recognise potentials- Every child is unique and all children possess potentials within. Parents, teachers and family memebers need to identify the potentials within the child and give the exact amount of encouragement through praise, assurance and rewards to make the child feel self-sufficient and worthy.
- Unconditional love- Child should always feel the vibe of unconditional love to feel valued as a person. Once children start feeling that any condition is attached with the love he/ she is receiving, he/ she start comparing self with others and hence tends to become anxious and emotionally insecure.
- Trusting with responsibilities- It is essential for children to feel responsible from an early age of development. Parents should always let children make simple choices and guide them through whenever required. Parents can also trust children with small and simple household chores and praise their child appropriately to make the child feel self-confident.
- Setting goal as per ability- Parents should always aim at setting age and skill appropriate goal for their child. Never to go for something that is not suiting the child’s age or skill level, as this not only encounter with upsetting failure but also lower child’s self-esteem and confidence.
Last but not the least, the Canadian Mental Health Association has given some useful guidelines, in form daily checklist to keep in mind while doing any activity with children at home, to foster esteem and boost self-respect in children for raising resilient and confident kids:
- To make feel special- Help child to realise his/ her own strengths, talents and qualities. But at the same time help child to accept own weakness and work on it, this will make them understand that feeling special for their strengths does not mean feeling better than other and devoid of any short-comings.
- Setting goal- Setting appropriate goal and to self evaluate the outcome (with parental guidance, ofcourse) to undesrand opportunities of success and realise accomplishments.
- Try and retry- Helping children to face challenges, take new risks through various activities, try out different ways of doing single thing and enjoy them all through without stressing over the result only.
Some of the simple activities to try at home with children that can help boost self-esteem in them:
- Highlighting ‘wins’ and recent positive experiences
- Encouraging child to vent-out inner fear while facing any challenging situation without being judgmental
- Changing self-talk from negative to positive and purposeful
- Asking child to help with small and simple tasks to provide him/ her feel the opportunity of success
- Encouraging child to put up small performance show for others