I believe that every parent desires to raise a child who has a strong sense of self-worth. A child that believes in their competence, and able to deal with the challenges of life. If this resonates well with you, read on. Because the child described above is one who has positive self-esteem.
Self- esteem is confidence in one’s abilities; It is the feeling of satisfaction that one has in his/her skills.
Ways of Nurturing High Self-Esteem in Your Preschool Children
1. Give Unconditional Love
Make a clear distinction between your child and their mistakes. When you discipline, let them know that it is their mistake that you are dealing with.
For example: Don’t say “Nancy, you are a rude child” when they keep on interrupting your conversations with another person.
Say something like, “It is not right to interrupt when people are talking.”
You can even do it better by modeling interruptive behavior to him/her. Have their older sibling interrupt a conversation between you and the preschooler.
It should never look like you love your children only when they behave appropriately. Let them know that you love them even when they have not behaved well.
Step back and let your child make mistakes, fail, and eventually succeed. Stepping back will help them develop competence which is a huge boost to their self-esteem.
Developing competence takes time and effort. Allow your kiddo to go through the competence building process without stepping in to help too soon.
3. Give Age-Appropriate Tasks
If you give your little one tasks that are beyond their developmental abilities, you are setting them up for failure.
Consistent failure is a big blow to your tot’s self-esteem.
Because of that, age-appropriate tasks will be accomplished, though with a bit of struggle.
For example, allow your preschooler to pair socks and put them away in the socks drawers.
In addition to that, you can also have them put away the unbreakable dishes from the dining table to the sink.
Let them knead their little hands into the dough before you make pastries.
This will make them feel so grown up and confident in their abilities.
4. Help Them Get a Sense of Identity, Connection, and Belonging
Use photo albums to teach your children about their origin. Show them photos of their grandparents, cousins, aunties, and uncles.
Explain how your preschooler is related to them.
Share family stories, participate in family events, community festivals as well as religious activities.
Create opportunities for your preschooler to have friends outside the home.
Connecting with friends and other people outside the home will help develop social skills and boost your little ones’ confidence.
5. Allow them to Play with Their Age-Mates
If your little one plays with much older children, he or she may be overwhelmed with their physical capabilities.
This may make your little one look down on their abilities, hence affect their self-esteem.
6. Create an Environment for Success
You need to create a conducive environment for them to utilize their developmental abilities.
Buy them clothes that are easy to put on and take off.
Create a reachable place for them to organize their books and toys.
The ability to accomplish something on their own will have them beaming with pride. Therefore boosting their self-esteem.
7. Let them make choices
Letting your kiddo choose between two alternatives is a great start.
For example, ask them whether they want to wear grey or black shoes. Let them choose between leggings and pants.
Knowing that you trust their choice is an excellent boost to their esteem.
8. Give Healthy Praises
Note the effort, acknowledge it, and praise it.
Avoid only praising innate attributes. Don’t we all love to tell our kiddos that they are geniuses?
Praising your kiddo’s innate abilities may make them imagine that they are perfect and do not need to work hard in anything.
Practicing healthy praises may pose a challenge at first but with practice and deliberate effort, you will ace it.
Praise qualities that your little one has control over. Qualities like bravery, perseverance, and hard work should never go unnoticed.
Praising these attributes will help your child cultivate a culture of hard work and resilience (link our article on resilience), which are essential for life-long learning and success.
However, avoid overpraising — know the balance between challenges and praises.
If you praise your little one when they have not put in any effort, the praise will sound
insincere. It will look like you are covering up for your lack of faith in their abilities. Children can detect when we are insincere. They also know when they have done well.
If you feel like your little one didn’t do so well, help them explore ways of doing it better. Say something like, ‘What if we could paint the dinosaur’s mouth red to make it look more fierce?’
9. Avoid Comparisons
Comparing your preschooler to his/her sibling will make them doubt their abilities. It makes them feel as if their sibling has innate abilities which the preschooler lacks.
This kills their motivation to try different things. No two humans are the same. Let your preschooler know that there will always be someone better than them in one way or the other, though this does not mean that your tot is inferior.
Avoid demeaning comparisons-Help your preschooler identify their unique talents and abilities. Work towards helping them thrive in those.
10. Model a Healthy Way of Dealing with Mistakes and Failure
Help your preschooler understand that mistakes are part of life.
If they place the plate too close to the edge of the table and it falls, normalize that situation. Discuss what they could have done differently.
Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake. If your baking backfires, acknowledge that the cake may not look so good but smells great.
Let your children see you pick yourself up after a mistake without making yourself feel like a total failure.