How can parents and teachers help be sure that children will be responsible for their education, free-time and overall well-being? Success in school, getting along in a family or with peers all depend on self-confidence. Without it, children’s talents may not be developed as they may be afraid to take risks or be creative. Research shows that a positive self-concept is more important to academic success than a high IQ score. Children will have greater self-esteem if they feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for their experiences. The following are guidelines to follow for fostering self-esteem.
1. Look at Each Child as a Unique Person
Make every effort not to compare a child with siblings or classmates. Focus on the countless assets rather than what the child does not have. De-emphasize competition. Accept the child for what he or she is rather than what you want him or her to be. Be supportive of his or her interests.
2. Keep Expectations Realistic
Be in line with the basic facts of child development. Fit expectations with children’s ages, temperaments, and backgrounds. Be careful not to base your expectations on your unfulfilled wishes and values rather than the children’s wants and needs. Avoid using children to increase your status. Help children to set realistic goals for themselves.
3. Give the Freedom to Make Mistakes
Help children develop the courage to be imperfect. Don’t be defeated by mistakes. Learn from the experience. Teach children problem solving skills so they can continue to try. Instead of focusing on errors, encourage children.
4. Build in Success
Create situations where failure is unlikely by breaking down tasks into a series of easy steps and communicating them clearly and concisely. Provide opportunity for training. Give children a chance to contribute in their particular area of competency.
5. Give Encouragement
Recognize efforts and improvements rather than waiting to praise completed tasks. Focus on children’s assets and strengths and encourage self-appreciation and positive self-talk.
6. Accept Children’s Unpleasant Feelings and Teach Them How to Deal With Them
All feelings can be accepted. Certain actions must be limited. Take their ideas, emotions, and feelings seriously. Give feedback that makes a clear distinction between the behavior and the person.
7. Give Choices
Children will not develop a sense of ownership and responsibility if other people always decide what they will do and when and how they will do it. Real choices, appropriate to children’s ages, also permit them to experiment, make mistakes, and learn in nonthreatening situations.
8. Give Responsibility and Expect Cooperation
Give children opportunities to help with tasks around the house. Take care to never, on a regular basis, do for your children what they can do for themselves.
9. Keep Your Sense of Humor
Encourage children to see the humorous side of events. Be careful not to appear to be laughing at them.