As a teacher working with young children, you have millions of opportunities to empower children & foster good self-esteem. Every day in the early childhood classroom self images are being built by the child’s successes & failures and by what they see and hear.
Many of the challenges that plague children are the result of low self-esteem. Teenage pregnancy, drug usage, poor grades, fighting, depression, and even suicide can be the result of low self-esteem. A child with high self-esteem will enjoy life more and have a more successful childhood. Children with high self-esteem are likely to grow into adults with high self-esteem.
Grow a child’s self-esteem and confidence:
- Draw attention to the child’s strengths. Let the children bask in the glory of being good at something. Whether the child’s strength is school, throwing a fastball, or playing Go Fish, let them know that you notice how great they are at it.
- Teach children how to deal with failure. Explain that it happens to everyone and is part of life. Help each child to examine what went wrong in her approach and how to improve. Encourage children to be persistent until success is achieved.
- Give children choices. Just be sure to control the options. Suppose a young child is getting dressed for school. Instead of choosing the clothes for the child, allow him to have a few options. Choose a few different outfits and then allow the child to choose between them. You’ll have a well-dressed kid that feels empowered because he chose his own clothes.
- Allow each child to fit in at school. The idea of Spiderman pajamas at school might seem bizarre to some, but if that’s what all the cool kids are doing, let it go. It can be difficult for adults to remember the importance of peer acceptance. Allow the children to find their own way to fit in.
- Allow children to struggle a little. It can be hard to resist the urge to provide help at every opportunity. However, it can be great for a child to learn how to deal with struggle. Ensure that the struggle ends successfully! Give each child the opportunity to be successful without adult intervention.
- Be reasonable in your praise. Your 3-year old student knows her drawing of a butterfly isn’t the best butterfly the world has ever seen. Instead, offer a comment like, “I love how you used so many colors in the wings.” Be sincere with your praise.
- Allow each child to overhear you complimenting them. For example, the next time you’re talking to another teacher in front of your class, mention something positive about one of the children. He’ll be sure to hear and feel on top of the world.
- Avoid comparing one child to another. All people are individuals. Comments like, “Why can’t you be as neat as your friend?” cause more harm than good.
- Spend time alone with each student. It’s one way of showing that every child is important to you. Children know you could be doing a lot of other things, but you chose to spend time with her instead.
- Be encouraging. We all require support from time to time. When a child is struggling, provide encouragement and support. Let them know that they’re not alone. Consider what you would’ve liked to hear as a child and allow that to be your guide.
A child with a healthy level of self-esteem will be happier and perform better in school. As an early childhood professional, you have a strong influence over your children’s self-confidence. Making your children feel good about themselves is one of your greatest responsibilities. Pay attention to the little things each day, because that’s what your kids are doing!
There are countless opportunities to make your child feel better or worse about himself. Be proactive.