Adults play an important role in the development of a child’s self-concept. It takes very young children a lot of growing up before they can picture themselves as separate persons capable of thinking and acting for themselves.
As children become aware of the adults around them, their parents and teachers serve as models to them. Adults who feel negatively about themselves and express these negative feelings may find children modeling, or imitating, these attitudes and behavior.
What can parents do to nurture a positive self-concept?
1. Be mindful of the language you use to describe your children. Do not label them with words such as ‘lazy’, ‘naughty’, ‘aggressive’ or ‘mean’. Instead, look for and point out your child’s strengths.
2. Provide them with opportunities for success. Give your child age-appropriate tasks she can complete on her own. Having done so will give her a sense of pride and help build a “can do” mentality.
3. Show your children that you have faith in their goodness and in their abilities. This is a matter of language choice.
4. Spend time together. A vital part of having a healthy self-concept is feeling loved and valued.
5. Support your child’s interests. Learn what your child is interested in and support him in mastering that skill or accomplishing his desired level of achievement. Feeling competent and good at something grows a positive self-concept.
6. Set reasonable rules and enforce them with loving kindness. Your rules should be age-appropriate and clear. It’s important to make sure your child knows that mistakes are a part of life and doesn’t mean she’s a bad person. When giving consequences, keep your child’s dignity in mind.
7. Help your child to manage his emotions and work out problems. When children learn to solve their own problems, they build confidence and, therefore, a positive self-concept. Learning to manage emotions is key to having the ability to step back from a situation and view it objectively.
8. Maintain a connected relationship. Knowing that she has you to talk to, that you will listen without casting out immediate judgment and take her feelings seriously, will help her to feel supported, safe, and important.
9. Give her the opportunity to explore her environment, ask questions without feeling like a nuisance, and engage in make-believe play activities. To nurture curiosity and imagination, allow ample time for free play and exploration.
10. Acknowledge effort and offer encouragement. As she grows, her own self-evaluation will become important to her self-concept, and she needs to learn how to emphasize her strengths and accomplishments, even if there is no trophy in the end.
A healthy self-concept is the foundation for the positive development and the over-all well-being of a child. When a child has a healthy self-concept, he sees himself as being loved, loving, and valuable, and that’s what we all want for our children.
Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.
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