With support and effective teaching and parenting techniques, a child’s spirit, confidence and self-esteem can be nurtured and developed. This is a huge topic and one that cannot be covered in one blog, but this is a fantastic place to start! The first and most important way to do this is to always begin from a place of love and respect. This means making all your choices – especially as a parent – based on love. Another basic way to do this is when you are introducing new tasks/experiences to the child or class. Give children the skills they need to learn the new task/experience that they are endeavouring at and then scaffold their development until they have mastered it. Sounds too simple? Well it can be, just keep working at it. My aim is to develop confidence in all children so that they have the inner belief that they can achieve all that their heart desires. It’s all about having the tools to reach your fullest potential!
Make all decisions based on respect and love for the child!
This is the absolute most important point I will ever make about guiding children and nurturing their spirit. When making any decision at all relating to a child, think to yourself – am I making the decision based on love, respect and the child’s needs or out of my own needs and the quest for control? If you make all your decisions with this in mind you can never truly go wrong. Loving and respecting the child means listening carefully to what it is that they want and never using your power as a bigger and older person to control the child in any way. I will make this point clear – never ever aggressively scream at, bully or belittle a child! They have just as much right to be respected (in my opinion – even more so!) than any adult. Would you disrespect an adult in this way? If your answer is yes, then you have a lot to learn and probably need far more help than I can offer. If it is no, then why would you do it to a child? Make this the day that you stop! Calm loving behaviour is far more effective than being aggressive. All aggression does is result in tension, anxiety and anger and has no place whatsoever in guiding and nurturing a child! It is also one of the quickest and most effective ways to break your child’s confidence and self-esteem – Don’t do it!
Failure is not a bad thing, it’s another opportunity to learn!
It is so important for children not to see failure as a bad thing but as another opportunity to learn. Many psychologists agree that the risk of failure may hold children back from learning new skills. By not attempting new tasks a child’s developmental growth can be stunted. Never let children’s failure reflect on their self-image or self-worth. Failure is a means to an end – learning and eventually succeeding. (stay tuned for my upcoming blog – Famous Failures)
Help them achieve their goals!
Find out what your child’s needs and interests are. What would they like to learn about or be able to do? – then help them achieve their goal. Children usually achieve far more when adults provide them with clear instruction, ample time to practice, give positive prompts and feedback and allow that child to practice a skill until its achieved. If a child does make a mistake the worst thing an adult can do is tell them that they are wrong, instead show them the correct way without being condescending and domineering.
Praise and Encourage!
Praise and encouragement is imperative in developing confidence. Encouragement helps children know that they are good enough as they are. Some experts say that praise and encouragement should be used sparingly in order for children to acquire intrinsic self worth and motivation but I totally disagree. Praise and encourage that child as much as it needs you to – better to encourage too much than not enough!
Here is a practical example:
Your three year old child says; “Can you please show me how to make a sandwich?” You get out the butter, bread, butter knife, Vegemite and place two slices of bread on a plate. Begin by demonstrating how to place your knife into the butter and carefully spread it on the bread. You then give your child a turn. The first time you could say “Lets do this together,” and let them hold the knife and spread the butter while you hold the top of the knife and guide their hand. Then let them have a turn on their own. If you see that they are having trouble and putting big chunks of butter in one area on the bread, you don’t say “That isn’t right let me do it for you.” Instead you would say “Great job, can I just show you how to scrape the butter off this side and put a bit more on the other side?” or something similar which is still positive and gives the child the opportunity to say yes or no. If the child would like you to repeat the task then you can show them again, if not there will be other opportunities and that child has been given the confidence to try again. Follow the same procedure with spreading the vegemite and cutting the sandwich in half.
More Practical examples to come : )
Where to next?
Each day or as necessary, repeat the same strategies. If the child would like to try a new task – encourage them. Then go through each stage together e.g. demonstrating, describing, listening to their concerns, encouraging, praising, reinforcing, scaffolding. Scaffolding is based on the work of Vygotsky – a well known psychologist – and is a process where an adult or more competent peer provides support and assistance to a less competent child. They adjust the amount and level of support (according to need) as the child progresses. This helps the less competent child become more competent and ultimately they’re able to carry out and complete the tasks independently. I use this method often in my work with children and what I find is that as they progress, their confidence shows a huge increase from not having the confidence to independently attempt challenging tasks at all; to being able to show a younger child how to do these tasks.
Nurture and value the child as an individual!
By following the child’s needs and interests with love and respect and by giving them the tools they need to achieve independence, adults can aid the development of confidence. In addition, they do this by loving, respecting, nurturing and valuing the child as an individual, this validation leads to better self-esteem. With the confidence to try new things, children believe that they can achieve anything and this gives them hope. Hope is usually a normal part of development but it can be stunted or allowed to flourish depending on what is going on around the child. Therefore, always provide positive opportunities to help a child develop new skills and encourage and praise them often in order to keep building their confidence and self-esteem!
Darling Precious Children
Checkout my recent blogs: The Importance of Building Confidence and Darling Precious Roly Poly Christmas Tree. And stay tuned for more great Christmas ideas + upcoming blogs about Famous Failures AND Getting your child ready for big school!