Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How to Build Self-Esteem in Young Children


7 Easy Steps to a More Confident Preschooler & Book List

Recently, Katie,  Mommy with Selective Memory, confided in me an incident which made her wonder if she was doing enough to boost her child self-esteem and confidence. Katie posted about how to Boost Self-Esteem by Displaying Art Work where she offers wonderful suggestions on displaying children’s art. But Katie was facing yet another child-rearing dilemma:


A MOM'S DILEMMA

We bought my daughter a beautiful yellow dress last weekend. It was really supposed to be for Easter, but she looked so pretty in it that I let her wear it all day. I must have complimented her about 100 times that day with things like:

"You look so pretty in yellow!"

"I love that color on you!"

"Do you know how pretty you are?"

And on and on and on. I was really just talking out loud, but every time I said something nice, she grinned and basked in the admiration. The next morning when she woke up, she wanted to wear the yellow dress again. I hesitated. She really shouldn't wear the same dress every day. Plus, I didn't want it to get dirty since I wanted to save it for Easter.

I told Munchkin that she could wear her pink dress instead. I was surprised when she immediately dissolved into frantic tears. I had never seen her so upset. She usually doesn't throw fits and this fit was clearly not for show; she was genuinely heartbroken. My first reaction was impatience. We needed to get to school and I needed to show her that she can’t have her way simply because she throws a fit. Fortunately though, I took a deep breath and sat down in front of Munchkin and made her look at me. I asked her calmly why she was so upset. It took about three minutes for her to stop crying and really answer my question.

"M-m-Mommy," she said with a quivering lip. "I don't look pretty in pink. I only look pretty in y-y-y yellow."

Ooops. Apparently all my compliments had the opposite effect than I had intended. Instead of boosting her self-esteem, I had unintentionally made her self-conscious about her looks. Visions of a unruly teenager with pink hair and a lip ring flashed through my mind.

I realized that I needed to do a better job at building her self-confidence in ways that have nothing to with how she looks. I asked Susan for advice.



Photo from The Butterfly Site

A TEACHER’S PERSPECTIVE
Katie is a very dedicated parent who wants to do everything possible to help her children learn through playful activities and to be the best that they can be. It is not easy being a parent, nor is it always easy being little. The following ideas will help build her children’s self-esteem and confidence - the metamorphosis of a child from a caterpillar into a butterfly.


WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR CHILD’S CONFIDENCE
  1. Focus on your child’s strengths making them feel special, important, and wanted. Every day, give them compliments and hugs and tell them you love them. The most precious words will then be heard by you, “I wuuvv u, too.”
  2. Focus fifteen minutes a day per child of interrupted one-on-one time. Great results may be seen with only fifteen minutes of uninterrupted concentration on a child. Then they may have the desire and confidence to play/work/learn on their own giving you some down time. Turn off the phone, or put it on silent, so that it won’t be disruptive to your child’s special time. Adults can usually wait awhile for your text or email responses.
  3. Help your child develop problem-solving and decision-making skills. Let them get their own drink and snacks by putting them in reachable places so they can learn some independence skills. Common sense is needed but children are capable of accomplishing many tasks with encouragement, patience, and praise. Talk about solutions to problems. If you don’t know the answer to one of their numerous questions, tell them: “I don’t know. Let’s find out together.”
  4. Stay positive with your child. Don’t compare them to others. Every child is different with their own strengths and personality. Focus on what they can do and provide challenges and opportunities that are appropriate for their level of development. Your child’s sense of value is directly related to how you treat them and respond to their accomplishments. Family members are the most important people in the world to little ones.
  5. Provide choices such as, “Would you like to wear the green shirt or the yellow shirt?” If you are staying home, let them choose what to wear, or make as many choices as is reasonable. In Katie’s case, perhaps telling Munchkin many times that she looks beautiful in any color will solve the dress problem. Children do not care about labels in clothes, they just want to be comfortable, have fun, and feel good about themselves. Perhaps Katie could buy some inexpensive dresses in different colors at a thrift shop and put back the Easter dress for that special day. What little girl doesn’t like to dress up in mom’s old dresses, shoes and hats? Throw in a boa, old purse, and tea set and I bet Munchkin will feel beautiful and special for many hours of imaginative, creative  play.
  6. Provide opportunities for your child to help and praise them frequently. Use a sticker chart or draw happy faces on the calendar when your child has wonderful behavior or learns something new. Treat them to something special when the stickers or happy faces have accumulated to a pre-determined number. The best rewards cost little—except your time. Counting the stickers will reinforce math also. Or fill up a Marble Jar.
  7. Help your child make a book, box or sack titled I Like Me! Include their letter scribbles, drawings, and photos. Print their words on the front or back showing that letters have meaning. Writing the date will help you realize how fast they are learning and developing. Re-reading their book will build confidence, vocabulary and the desire to create more art while they learn in the process Read the notes and book on days when you wonder: Who's child is this? What was I thinking? 

BOOKS TO BUILD SELF-ESTEEM
P. K. Hallinan is the author of 89 children’s books which have sold over 8,000,000 copies worldwide. They are beautifully illustrated and rhyme - which enhances reading skills. New and used copies of his books can be found on Amazon.
  • How Do I Love You?  The lyrical meter and simple rhyme in this book are especially suitable for the toddler age. And the message is simple: Mom or Dad loves the child - no matter what.
  • I Know Who I Am: Takes an insightful look at how self-worth is nurtured and what children can do to feel good about themselves
  • I Know I Belong: Presents children with thoughtful examples of how to think about where they fit in their family and the bigger world.
BUCKET BOOKS
What lies behind us and what lies before us
are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Help prepare your child for Kindergarten with Kindergarten: Tattle-Tales, Tools, Tactics, Triumphs and Tasty Treats for Teachers and Parents. Let Mommy with Selective Memory and me help you have more free time while teaching your child through playful activities with The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn. Also available on Barnes & Noble and Kobo. The ebooks are only $3.99.










Let Children Experience Childhood.


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49 comments:

  1. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Shonda - thank you! I've been reading your posts and have grabbed both your buttons for my sidebar. Thank you for visiting! Have a blessed day, lovely lady.

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    2. I loved this article... and the I LIKE ME box is a great idea!! :)

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  2. This is such a fantastic post and resource for parents and teachers. Thank you for the list of books to support this concept with kids. I pinned this to my Kids Health Board. I have a post coming out tomorrow about beauty. =)

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    1. Rebekah - Thanks for visiting and your kind words. I will check out your beauty post. Have a wonderful fun day.

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  3. I so want to foster confidence and humble worth in my children... what a fantastic list of ways to tell my child they are loved for who they are, and not their outer appearance!

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    1. Thank you! I love your blog too - Beautiful kids having fun and learning during the process. Have a wonderful day and thanks for visiting.

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  4. Katie's concerns are not overblown. I'm 22 and I still avoid wearing red tops (although I do wear read skirts and shoes, since I love the color), because my mom told me I didn't look great in red. And yes, she told me that probably 10 years ago. So kudos for being so self-aware!

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    1. Laura - Thank you for visiting! I wish you'd buy a red top for yourself. I know it is difficult to erase parental remarks - but try it and see how it makes you feel. And do not feel guilty - just enjoy the color. It's such a great color especially around the holidays. Ten years is a long time ago - a little lipstick and blush goes a long way in bringing out a beautiful skin tone when wearing red. Go for it!

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  5. Thank you for that insight. I have a question regarding self esteem with my 4 year old. I teach her preschool at home with a few other little girls and I've noticed the other girls treating my daughter unkindly, and she gets her feelings hurt and has said that she doesn't think anyone wants to play with her. What can I do as a mom and teacher to these young girls?

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    1. I would go to the library and ask for books for young children on being friends. Read the books to them and talk about what a friend is - sharing toys, playing together, helping each other. Compliment them every time you can on good behavior like, "What a good friend you are. Thank you for helping (daughter's name)." You may need to join in games that everyone plays together. Children love to be praised and reading books about friends will reinforce your concepts. They are little - but fast learners. Praise works wonders.

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  6. Beautifully written! Thank you for the excellent tips!!! Children really want to be understood, respected and loved and you portrayed that perfectly.

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    1. Joanna - thank you so much. You made my day! I hope you have a wonderful one.

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  7. Thank you for sharing with BTT!

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    1. I visited your blog and am following you. We homeschooled our daughter from middle school on and loved it. You're connecting with some good sites like ChestnutGrove Academy - wonderful learning gong on with you gals. Thank you for visiting.

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    2. Thank you! I am following you as well.

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  8. Wow! Thanks for such a great post! Love all of your tips and ideas. Kristi

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    1. Your blog is wonderful and I was already following you on Pinterest. Amazing ideas you have. Thank you so much for visiting.

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  9. This is a great post. We do #1 and #6 already except we do popsicle stick jars! We do need to work on #4. You can always be more positive. I found you on cafemom and I am following. Please check out my blog www.trueaimeducation.com. Thanks.

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    1. Thank you so much for visiting Tulip. I love your amazing blog and am following you.

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  10. Tulip - let me just say I love Tulips - my mother's favorite flower. And your blog is outstanding. You are so right - let the parents take back the educational control of their children - not the unions. I'm looking forward to more of your posts. Way to go!

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  11. Great post! Thank you for sharing these tips. I have a 3 year old and a 2 year old. We were driving the other day and the 3 year old said "Mommy, why is the car breaking?" I realized quickly it was because we were going over bumps and she didn't like the feeling. I responded "Honey the car isn't breaking it's just bumps in the road." Then came the "Why are the bumps in the road?" My intial response was "because..." Her response was "Oh because" I then realized I could not just leave it at that. I came up with the best explanation I could and realized in that moment I needed to not just give the lame because answer ever again. This will be a challenge at times but I love saying let's find the answer together. Thanks again for sharing!
    Laundry Care

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  12. Thank you for your great comment. I appreciate it. I watched your laundry video. Very good. Thank you for visiting.

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  13. This is such a wonderful list--I'm so glad you put it together! I'm going to share it on my PreschoolPowolPackets Facebook page!

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    1. That you Carla! I really appreciate you putting it on your FB page. Have a wonderful day. Love your blog!

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  14. Fantastic list. I love the I Like Me book idea.

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    1. Erica - thank you so much! Glad you stopped by.

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  15. I really loved this! It is so often that with my good intentions I have "oops!" moments.
    This had great thoughts and resources and think its SO IMPORTANT to make sure we are not just focusing on the outward beauty but also the MANY things that make each person "beautiful" ... I look forward to reading more of your blogs!!!

    <3 Nanny B

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    1. Thank you so much. That means a great deal to me. Children are sensitive and need nurturing and time. Glad you agree - beauty is inside.

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  16. Susan, These are such great tips on increasing your child's confidence. Checking emails/messages on the phone has become so commonplace that we don't realize its hurting the one-on-one time we spend with our children. I also agree that 15 minutes of undivided attention is all they need to focus and get some direction on constructive play.

    I can't wait to check out your recommended books. Thanks so very much for adding this to my blog hop!

    Best, Niv

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    1. Thank you for the wonderful Blog Hop! Love your blog.

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  17. Found this great article by way of the House of Tales blog hop and I am so glad that I did. What an excellent set of resources for children. Thank you so much.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment. Glad you like the resources - they are very good. Have a wonderful day!

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  18. Hi Susan!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    Wonderful article! A lot of great points into helping parents deal with their child's self-esteem and how to positively influence them. Sharing this on Twitter. =)

    -Ana xo

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    1. Love your blog. Thank you so much for sharing this post!

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  19. A nice, sweet post, but scary that people need this kind of advice. Just spend TIME with your children and be a PARENT and a HUMAN BEING...

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    1. I understand your point. Sad that we have to be reminded to unplug and focus and enjoy our children. Thanks for visiting.

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  20. Hey! Thanks for writing this. Sharing it in my post for Carnival of Natural Parents, which will go live today.
    Brilliant and much appreciated!

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing this post! I greatly appreciate it and will stop by your blog.

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  21. This is a really great post! How teachers forgot is that they need to compliment and flatter the kids once in a while and not only being harsh on them when they did something wrong.

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    1. I totally agree. Teachers are stretched to the max but children need to be complicated and caught being good. Thank you for commenting.

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  22. Focus on child strength is very importat point, and every parent should follow it, in other words we can say that we should discover our child's strength or let them discover it.

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  23. THANKS FOR THE LOVELY COMMENTS! I AM GLAD YOU LIKE THE POST ASWELL! MORE TO COME!

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  24. I read recently about someone who hoped he would get a phone call while he was spending time with his kids, just so the could answer and tell them that they were in the middle of something very important, someone very important and he will call back later.

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  25. Self-confidence is one area that parents have significant influence, particularly for children of primary school-age and below. Kids in these years are on a journey to work out what they can do and how they can fit into their various groups. In helping my child developing his self esteem I also have a source http://raiseselfesteem.net they have a lot of stuff which can really help you.

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  26. Having good self-esteem and positive thoughts is also the ticket to having children make good choices about their mind and body.

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  27. One of the most important jobs for parents is to help your child successfully through life’s challenges and successes, help them feel good about themselves along the way, and learn to accept mistakes as an opportunity to do better next time.

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  28. dress games is the first amazing and first funny games for girls. but the dress up games is the most popular and most famous.

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  29. This is such a thoughtful post. Giving children empty compliments never builds self esteem. I created Lunchbox Love for Kids www.sayplease.com to help parents give their kids love encouragement and fun with messages like. You're working really hard -- I noticed and fun trivia or jokes to make them smile. Hope you'll check them out. -Judi

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