(Ms. Lemmens is a P.E.T. Master Trainer for Gordon Training Int’l.)
Unlike what google searches tell you about the self-esteem of your kids, smiling and positive reinforcement won’t make your kid self-confident. Children form their self-image and their self-esteem by observing themselves master their world. When a child observes herself do something that she feels good about she feels more confident.
A child gets out the car for kindergarten, walks up the sidewalk to that giant building and goes through that door with his Star Wars lunch pail. When he walks in there, sits down and gets through that first day he or she says to himself: “I did that! I got out of the car and I walked up there and I sat down for three hours on my own”. And then they walk out of that kindergarten classroom a foot taller.
Parents cannot lecture, suggest, advise or carry their child into self-esteem. Self-esteem is acquired through mastering the world one step and one frustration at the time. Parents can however help their children acquire more self-esteem by progressively providing opportunities for the child that he or she can approach and succeed at:
• Help create a hierarchy of the situation that a child is having difficulty with.
• A hierarchy allows a child to start at a level that s/he can handle, and progressively move on to handle more and more difficult problems.
• The success of the child at each level accumulates in greater confidence, ability and self-esteem.
• The secret is to move gradually, taking steps short enough to insure that the child will be successful.