Cultivating Self-Esteem in Young Children – Orlando Child Counselors and Child Therapists discuss ways to increase self-esteem and positive self-talk in young children.
Groundwork Counseling’s Orlando Child Counselors often see children struggling from low self-esteem – which can lead to negative self-image, depression, anxiety, or acting out behaviors. Nurturing and cultivating self-esteem is something parents can implement at a very young age, and the smallest successes and contributions can make a large impact on the development of self-esteem. For example, have you ever been around a 4-year-old while folding clothes or working outside in the yard? If so, you will notice that they always want to help.
But Can They Do It Right?
Sometimes parents become worried about doing things ‘right’ so they can discourage children from helping, these small encounters can do a great deal for laying the foundation for self-esteem and a ‘can do’ attitude. Yes, all children will need to be taught how to do new things. Certainly small children don’t know how to fold clothes or plant a garden, but it is wonderful that they want to try, and our therapists and counselors highly suggest that parents let them. This is a wonderful opportunity for parents to teach, and cultivate a new skills as well as self-esteem.
Our child counselor suggests the following:
– Allow the child to engage in new activities
– Lead by example (children love to imitate)
– Acknowledge their efforts – “look how hard you’re working!”
– If they’re successful emphasize that they were successful – “Wow – look what you were able to do!”
– “Good Job” is very broad, sometimes children benefit from more information, instead try something like “You were able to put away all your t-shirts – that’s awesome!”
– If they fail – emphasize that some things take practice, and no-one is always able to do things perfectly, especially while they are learning
– Model all above behavior – If you make a mistake, talk to yourself utilizing positive-self talk so the child can develop a positive internal dialog
What If They Don’t Finish The Task?
Children’s attention spans are often short, and they may not complete the task – but it is likely that they will still feel a significant feeling of pride and accomplishment. Children don’t necessarily have to finish the task to gain something from it. Young children naturally want to help, but parents who are in a rush, can discourage children from engaging in tasks and developing new skills. By not allowing small children to help, parents risk teaching them that they are incapable, they are not needed, or that they can’t do it. This can lead to feelings of rejection and inadequacy, thus decreasing self-esteem – if possible, encourage your child to lend a helping hand and give them an opportunity to feel proud.