We teach our children to spot similarities for the purpose of learning. The stop sign is RED, the stop light is RED. The ball is ROUND, the light bulb is ROUND. When they carry that over into real life, however, is when things get tricky. Those similarities become comparisons and they begin to wonder, "well, if we are both little girls, why are we different?" Kids can determine their own construct of "normal", "beautiful", or "perfect" and find ways they don't measure up. Physical characteristics are among the first things that are compared by children, and unfortunately, some look inwards and wonder what they are lacking and why. It is heartbreaking to think of any young child not believing they are everything and more in this world, so it is up to us as parents and educators to help instill a sense of confidence, self-esteem, and reassurance. We can't always protect them, but we can give them the tools they need to stand strong on their own one day.
Children with self-esteem feel proud of what they do. They see all the good things about themselves and they believe they can overcome any challenge. In fact, if they don't get it right the first time, it drives them to do better the next time. Children with this mindset always feel liked and accepted and ultimately accept themselves, no matter the mistake they made.
+ Positive Reinforcement. From an early age, parents are advised to give praise to their babies when they do something right, so they can distinguish it from wrong. When a child excels in an activity, be sure to praise them so they are able to identify what they are great at in times of uncertainty.
+ Change their vocabulary. Help your child turn the "I can't do that" to "I'll give it a try" or "I've got this!" When people, kids included, try hard things, their self-esteem will start to grow.
+ Show them your love. There is nothing like love to help someone feel like they're on top of the word, children included. It reminds them that they belong and have a home in someone's heart.
+ Do kind things. Encourage your child to help with chores or do something nice for a stranger. What you do for others means a lot to them, and in return, will make your child feel good.
Finally, try out this activity: The "I've Got This!" List is a fun exercise to show children what they are good at and set goals for themselves to accomplish. Be sure to assist when the child needs help, and print out numerous copies to revisit it throughout the year!
Mommy, Am I? Children's Book
Another activity you can do with your child is read the children's book, Mommy, Am I?, that tells the story about a little boy named Theo who goes to the zoo, and with every animal he passes by, he believes he is becoming one! "Mommy, I have big hands, am I a lion?" Capturing the essence of a child's imagination, this book sets the bar high when teaching about self-love and celebrating all that makes you different. Bonus: Find out if Theo is really an animal or a little boy in the end!
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