BUILDING SELF-ESTEEM IN CHILDREN

At VSPS, we conduct a variety of programs for our preparatory children like rhymes carnival, story carnival, colours carnival, etc. Each and every child is given an opportunity to perform on the stage as we believe that “every child is a star at VSPS”. Of course some children are made to speak, some to dance and some as silent characters performing simple tasks.

After successful and grand celebrations of such events and functions, parents of some children who are given the least roles or silent performers approach us and question us for the reason for not giving an opportunity for their children to speak or to do some roles.

Why are some children not able to speak or perform well whereas a few cannot?

Children are born with different personality characters. Some are very active, some are stubborn, others are active at home but quiet outside, some are very bold to speak in public and some have low self-esteem. Each one is born with some kind of traits.

There is something called as shadow traits which means the “dark side” of our personality. It is called as dark side because it consists mainly of primary, negative emotions and instincts like selfishness, anger, jealousy, greed, desire, attention seeking and striving for power.

Can these emotions be changed?

Even though main dominant traits remain the same, the parents and the environment can help overcome the shadow traits or at least react in an appropriate and socially accepted ways when they are undergoing the negative emotions and make them a more all-rounded individuals.

Self-esteem is one such personality trait where in Genetic factors play some role, but the experiences and the environment that we face everyday form the basis for overall self-esteem.Children who always receive condemning or negative comments from people around them, will likely experience problems with low self-esteem.

So how can parents help build self-esteem?

Make them independent:

Experts say that, “When we do everything for our children, we inadvertently teach them that they are not capable of doing things for themselves”.

Daily chores like wearing and removing socks and shoes, packing their bags, wearing uniform, eating food in the given time, etc will make them independent and being independent will make them more confident and boost their self-esteem.

I have heard parents saying that, “My child just does not listen to me and I do not have all the time to wait for him to do his own things”.

Then how can we build confidence in them to make them independent?

  • Parents have to set rules and stay firm to not to let them break the rules even if the kids play tantrums or whatever the situation may be.
  • Explain them the consequences if they fail to follow the rules. Eg., “If you don’t get ready in time, you will miss the bus and will be late to school and being late is absolutely not good”.
  • Praise them for their good behaviour.
  • Teach problem-solving skills by allowing them to try and succeed and not doing it for them. When we barge in and do everything for our children, they will lose the initiative and drive to do most things for themselves.
  • If all these does not work, allow them to face the consequences and make them to realize the importance of following the rules.
  • If your child need help in any of his/her work, offer it but always let them do the last step and complete the work. This will boost their self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment.
  • If your child is capable of doing something independently, but they want you to do it – don’t.
  • They must know that even if it’s difficult, you trust and believe in them to do all the work. Let them know that although it might be hard, you believe in them and their capacity and potential.
  • Keep giving your child more and more responsibilities whenever you feel that he/she has mastered the previous ones. Can your child make/pack his/her own breakfast? Own lunch? Are they capable of washing their clothes like socks, napkins, etc/ putting clothes into the washing machine, drying them, folding them and keeping neatly in the cupboard?
  • Make them realize their efforts and how they feel good after they do their jobs. Eg. “Vow! It’s good to see you wear the neat dress you are wearing after you washed them”.
  • Let them know that as they get older, they can become more capable of doing things for themselves.

Allow them to solve their own problems:

“When we rescue our children too often when they are disappointed, they never learn how to face life’s ups and downs”:

  • Kids who are always rescued by elders can’t handle any problems in their future lives.
  • Every small problem is an experience that might teach them flexibility and problem solving skills.
  • When they are not given the opportunity to work out their own problems, they will lack the confidence and self-esteem to face life’s challenges.

Avoid interfering and solving your children’s problems.

When the children complain about friends or any others, just talk about it in detail and ask them, “what do you think is the right thing to do?” guide your kids to solve the problem and come up with their own solutions.

Praise your children for working through their own issues.

Praise only when required:

When we praise our children for every minor acquirement and achievement, they stop believing in our praise altogether. Children will know what a real achievement is and what it is not. They will also know when you are over doing it.

Praise only when they attempt the most difficult tasks or even when they attempt to do things which they are not confident.

Mention the reason for the praise instead of just saying “good” (e.g. I love the way you have written the first line/Here is star for writing very neatly, etc).

Use only natural and simple words and sentences for praising.

Do not buy any gifts or materials for praising as you will only be teaching them bribing. The praise can be in the form of 5 mins TV time of their favourite channel/ 5 mins extra time of play/ etc.

Highlight the child’s strengths instead of weaknesses

Celebrate whatever or how much ever they have achieved instead of continuously telling them to do things in a better way.

Comments like “Don’t do this way; you should have worked harder to score more, etc” causes more harm to kids than help. Highlight their strengths first. Eg. “You have drawn well or you have written well here” rather than criticising or highlighting what they have not done.

Later if you want to correct the mistakes, avoid using commanding and harsh words of criticism.

Stop your child’s activity if he/she is not interested:

It is good for kids to try out various activities like dance/music/art/sports.

It is also good for us to teach our kids about dedication and devotion when they join any of the extracurricular activities.

But we also need to know when to motivate or when to stop the activities.

We should be very watchful if the child is enjoying the extracurricular activity or not.

We should not force our children to take up or continue the activities which they don’t like or enjoy or good at it. This will kill their self-confidence.

It’s scary to even imagine any child’s state of mind, if he/she is not good at something and forced to give his best. Eg. If the child is not good at art and we ask him to go to the art classes and he fails to learn the art lessons, he will assume that he is a failure.

Be very watchful and find out what your child is good at. Even a small inclination towards something may lead to big passion later on.

Create tasks or ask questions that he/she is good at.

The activities that the children are good at can be shared with everyone.

They can use the talents they are good at and teach the same to others too.

This will make the child feel good and definitely the self-esteem is built.

Let us provide the best environment for our children to strengthen their self-esteem and become the all-rounders.

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