Apart from the individual differences in each child, there is a characteristic which we would like all our children to have: self- esteem. All parents want their child to eventually be capable of coping with life by himself. The first years are very important to sow, take care of and help self -esteem to grow. A positive idea of himself, belief in his ability, knowing that he can count on primary figures
will give him the confidence which will allow him to go out and explore the world and have relationships with others.
How can we promote this? Life, which is always more frenetic, more stressing and orientated to competition rather than cooperation between people, often doesn’t help us. Some studies have reported that parents have increased the habit of emphasising their children’s errors, rather than when they do well. “I’ll do it because you are not able to”, “I am disappointed, I expected more of you”, “you are so clumsy”, “your brother was better than you at your age” are only some of the common comments, said distractedly, but when they are continuous, destroy a child’s self-esteem.
To promote self-esteem, two things are needed: patience and a little attention.
- First of all a child must feel worthy of our love, independently of what they are able to do. This must never be under discussion.
- Promote exploration by encouraging them, let them make mistakes.
- We must give them clear instructions and ask them to do something which is realistic for their age. It is important they taste success and not just failure.
- Support them, but never substitute them completely.
- Praise the effort made and not just the result.
- Help children to make sense of failure especially when this has had an strong impact on their self-esteem( for example. I am useless).
- Appreciate what a child does well, reassure when he is not so good at something (“What a good drawing”, “You’ll see that the next time will go better”).
- Criticise gently his behaviour(the fact) and never the person. We must never undermine the self.
- Instil confidence: a child must feel the support of the others around him.
- Promote emotional competence, that is the capacity to deal with their own emotions and that of others.
- Encourage the child to put his aptitudes and talents at the service of others: the satisfaction of doing something which is very important for him increases the value of success and diminishes failure.
- Last but not least, have a rich and emotionally stable life.
Albert Bandura, a Canadian Psychologist, said that “self confidence doesn’t assure success, but the lack of confidence definitely originates failure”.