Being a parent is definitely the hardest job there is. You’re not only responsible for the safety, well being, education and health of your child or children, but also responsible for who they are and who they become. Of course their disposition is there own, but molding it is in our hands. So, how do you help a preschooler build confidence and self-esteem?
Here are some tips that I have picked up through the past few years and they are working beautifully:
- Let them “help out”. Allowing Alice to help me with the dishes, laundry, cleaning her room and sweeping makes her so proud. I can see it on her face while she is helping and in the smile she gives when she is praised for a job well done. She helps her daddy with the yard and the garden and the reactions are just them same. Not only is she building confidence, but it makes for wonderful “mommy and me” or “daddy and me” time
- Praising them, realistically. What I mean by realistically, is it’s easy to praise and praise and praise some more. Everything our children do makes us proud, but we don’t have to have a parade every time they remember to shut the fridge. Well for a 4 yr old, that is a pretty big one! Also, I saw a quick news story once about raising confident young women and the guest said something that really stuck out for me. She mentioned the over emphasis on beauty. I tell my daughter she is “beautiful” about 50 times a day. I’m working on cutting that down. What the guest said was it teaches them at a young age that beauty and looks are most important. I don’t want Alice to grow up thinking that she is only beautiful or that being beautiful is what matters most. I praise her for her hard work, for her accomplishments at preschool, and for helping out others. I tell her she’s smart, thoughtful, nice, sweet and of course beautiful. I praise her when she shares or looks out for others. I think well rounded praising will make for well rounded kids.
- Teaching them to cook. It’s amazing how proud Alice is when she helps me cook. It’s more than just helping, it’s teaching her too! There are steps in cooking that she can do without much assistance from me. Seeing her confidence in doing those unassisted tasks makes me proud!
- Allowing them to feel their emotions. It’s so easy to try to stop an angry outburst or a tearful one. I have found that allowing her to feel her emotions and then talking about them later helps her deal with them better. The next time she is angry, hurt, or sad she has a much better time dealing and getting over what has upset her. It’s difficult (especially for me) to try to find out why she is crying or why she is mad WHILE she is upset. Every time it only intensifies the situation. If I let her deal with it on her own terms, she is more than willing to talk to me about it afterwards. Now, if they are in danger of hurting themselves or someone around them, then of course I step in right away. Otherwise, I let her deal with it and then we talk after.
- Letting them make choices for themselves. Of course, within reason! You have to give them reasonable and parent guided choices. For example, I let Alice pick out her clothes, but on school days or days that we are leaving the house and will be in the eye of the public, I pick out several outfits for her and lay them on her bed. She is able to pick out what to wear. This way she is still choosing for herself and we don’t leave the house with her wearing this!
- Teaching about setting goals. I’ve just begun to teach her about goals. We have a cute goal-type magnetic notepad on our fridge. We talk about what things she wants to do the next day and we write them down. They are just small goals, “to do’s” really, but this way when she completes her goal for the day or week she is learning the joy, pride and self worth of accomplishment.
- Saying “No” with redirection. Just saying “no” always turns into a battle. Telling her “no” and redirecting her attention works like a charm. Whether it’s “no” to something like candy and asking her if she would like a yogurt or some grapes, or telling her “no” to banging away on daddy’s laptop and taking her hand and walking her to the crafting area of her playroom and sitting down together to paint, both work beautifully. It’s not always easy. We are tired and sometimes giving in seems so easy. Consistency really makes a big difference. The more “no battling” sessions we have, the happier and more confident she seems to be. She’s confident in her choices, because through redirection, she’s learned to make better choices. When I see her sit down with a bowl of grapes that she’s made all by herself, makes me so proud.
- Let them be who they are. This seems easy enough, but it’s easier to try to steer them in a direction we think is right. Case in point: Coloring! When she was 2-3, Alice colored beautifully using lots of bright colors and swirls all over the page. Over the blank image to be colored and without any thought of the lines. Once I almost told her to stop what she was doing with the intention of explaining the lines. I stopped myself before I said anything and I’m so glad I did. I imagined her happy face turning into a frown when she realized that in my eyes what she was doing was wrong. Now that she is 4, Alice has learned to color in the lines. She learned that all by herself.
I hope my tips are helpful for y’all. They certainly have helped me. Mommyhood is really difficult. I’ve learned to pick my battles, take things with a grain of salt, and to NEVER pass up “good advice”. Most of my tips I’ve learned from my mom, sister, SIL’s, friends, baby center, and Dr. Spock. Dr’s Spock’s advice has always been right on!
As a member of Clever Girls Collective, I was selected to participate in the Healthy Habits program sponsored by Kimberly-Clark and Colgate-Palmolive. The content and opinions expressed here are all my own. #healthyhabits #cgc