The development of good self-esteem, confidence, and overall self-love has limitless positive impacts on children. Children who love themselves and view themselves with positive regard have stronger relationships. They have the confidence to try new things, the ability to be assertive, are better equipped to handle mistakes and more. They can handle emotions and situations better, whether it be something positive or negative. They are able to stand up for themselves, be resilient, and face failure head-on. With so many benefits of self-love and confidence, it is clear that this is a skill that should be developed in children. How does a caregiver do that?
Start from the Beginning
Self-esteem and self-love begin in a child’s infancy. The type of love that children experience in infancy has lifelong impacts on their self-esteem and confidence. When they feel that they are safe, loved, and valued, they form a healthy attachment with their parents or guardians. Pay attention to them, feed them, cuddle them and play with them, and they will be in a position to further develop self-love and healthy self-esteem.
Children are able to develop confidence when you give them tasks that they can confidently complete. They feel good about their capabilities and intelligence if they are able to use newly learned skills successfully. For example, when they learn to tie their shoes, allow them to complete that task on their own. Provide words of praise along the way. It may be faster or easier for you to do it, but they will feel useful and good about themselves if they are allowed to do it.
Use Positive Self-Talk
This sounds simple, but make sure to talk to your children using positive words. They will mirror the language you use to describe them and their actions, so always use positive or neutral language. Even if they make a mistake, encourage them to talk about themselves in the same positive way. For example, if they spill something, do not let them feel ashamed about it. Instead, say, “It’s okay, everyone makes mistakes. Let’s clean this up.” Do not let your child describe themselves as anything negative, such as stupid or ugly. Work to reframe their mindset if they do that. Try not to make comments on their appearance to minimize any associations between beauty and worth. Instead, praise them on academic accomplishments, new skills learned, or other effort-based actions (such as cleaning up their toys). Focus on the strengths that they have while using positive language to work on their weaker areas.
Children imitate what they see, especially if it is something learned in the home. They will see if you feel confident about yourself and love yourself. Model self-love behaviors such as positive self-talk. If you do something that you are proud of, tell your child about that accomplishment. Even if they don’t fully understand the accomplishment, they will see that it is good to be proud of themselves in a way that is self-loving but not bragging.
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