We all agree that a child’s self-esteem is fundamental for a balanced growth and to confidently face the ever-changing challenges that he will face.
But what is it based on? How can we help them develop it? Self-confidence is based, above all, on the experience of success and it is necessary to give the child possibilities to carry out activities, adapted to his age, that he can perform.
Activities that promote accountability
These activities should not be too easy (bored) or very difficult (discouraged). Within these activities there are some that are within reach of all and are simple to realize but very important: the routines at home and autonomy and personal hygiene. This type of tasks allows us to reward the child for being responsible and to obtain rewards (social or material) not only for asking but for earning them. Our child learns that his efforts are rewarded, he learns to overcome reluctance and laziness and to collaborate with the rest of the family. It is important that they internalize the good emotions of doing things by themselves. It does not cost so much and then it feels good.
Activities such as picking up toys before giving them a new one or not leaving clothes on the floor, but above the bed, will allow parents to praise him and begin to associate “doing things right” with “feel good.”
Responsibility and Self-Esteem
Obviously it’s not about having to “win” every hug. The affection can and must be given spontaneously. Allowing them to do small tasks that they are sure to succeed may seem uninspiring, but we can be sure that a child who “helps” eventually has a better relationship with his parents, feels useful and secure, and is more willing to work when required. This builds a priceless self-esteem.
The little tyrant
Let’s think about the opposite: we are going to give the child everything he asks for just because he wants it. In this case the child will not want to pick up the toys, wash their hands or teeth, dress themselves, etc. This carries criticism, parents reneging when not directly berating. These children who never have to strive for anything, they don’t tolerate frustration of not getting what they want when they want and become little tyrants. As we can imagine they receive less praise from their parents and more critics, they are more dissatisfied and also do not “know” how to do things well because they are not used.
We should not be overwhelmed. Children survive almost everything and it is a work of years, but if we teach them good habits, we can be much calmer about their self-esteem and self-confidence. It is not that they have to be perfect and collect their toys “always” and get dressed alone, but it is important to model these behaviors little by little, as if we were a sculptor, with patience, by example and, of course, a lot of affection.