Nip it in The Bud
I have been writing a lot about depression and anxiety on this website so today I thought I would focus on ways to avoid depression and anxiety in the first place. Building self confidence is a key to beating depression
In other words we need to start by building confidence and joy in our very young children.
I know this is not a guarantee that they will not be affected by some unforeseen experience or trauma as they grow but they will be better equipped to deal with it when it does eventuate.
Children with a healthy self-esteem will believe that they are deserving of love, and they will possess the ability and strength to face challenges even knowing they may not succeed. They will have the confidence and courage to have a go because they have a developed sense of self-worth and confidence.
Conversely children with low self-worth and confidence will not cope with difficult situations because they will expect to fail and if they do it will only confirm their negative self-view. They will exhibit frustration and intolerance, and will feel unworthy of anybodies love. Having a low self-esteem correlates with many mental health disorders including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance use. These will surface as they get older.
Parents and early childhood educators need to ensure that the children in their care are given positive input to foster and develop good self-esteem to carry them through all the situations they will encounter throughout their formative years. It is not possible to protect them from trauma but it is possible to help them cope with it when it does confront them.
Some Strategies to Help Develop Self Confidence in Children.
1. Watch your language and judgments that you make of young children to describe something they have done.
I remember as a child myself, when my mother had arrived home after a week in hospital. I thought I had done a relatively good job of maintaining the home in her absence but the moment she walked in the door she started to sweep the floor. I was shattered because I had felt that I had done my best and it was like saying to me that I had failed.
I also remember doing a similar thing with one of my own children later in life and I have felt guilty about it ever since. Our middle daughter loved to cook and on this occasion my husband and I arrived in from the milking shed where we were surrounded by cow dung to be served green savory mince. It would have tasted wonderful because she was a good cook even at just 10 years of age. However, we could not face eating this green meat after milking the cows. I know she would have been deeply hurt by our response, just as my own feelings had been hurt many years before.
It is so easy to make this kind of mistake and I have no doubt we are all guilty of it at some point. We need to really try hard to think before we act or speak. What I could have said would be something like, ” Darling we really appreciate that you have cooked dinner for us but can we eat it tomorrow as we thought it would be fun to have fish and chips at the beach tonight.? ” Which is what we ended up doing anyway.
2. Encourage Your Children to Express How They Are Feeling In Different Situations.
Children need to be able to articulate their feelings in both positive and negative experiences enabling them to become critical thinkers and be able to evaluate their own responses in any given situation. If those responses are negative try turning their thinking around to see it differently. For instance if a child comes home with a poor spelling test result and declares he is stupid then you could ask them to prove to you that they are stupid. Failing one spelling test does not make you stupid, it just means you have to spend a bit more time learning the spelling words next time. Then make a game of learning spelling words together.
Point out that their belief they are stupid is false and help them to prove that even if they cannot spell all the words they are good at other things. Make a list of things they are naturally good at. A spelling test is not the measure of a person. This is especially important for teachers to remember as if a child struggles with one area of study he will excel in another and he or she should never be labeled as stupid.
3 Value Their Efforts and Completion of a Task
Research has demonstrated that it is more effective to reward children for their actual effort and completion of any given a task, rather than heaping praise on them as a comparison to other children for their performance They need to understand fully that their effort is considered and they are valued because of it, not how they rate against other children in the classroom or sporting event. Encourage them for the effort put in rather than focusing on the end result. Then even if they rate last to complete they can feel proud because they did complete the task.
4. Create a Stimulating and Warm Home/Classroom Environment.
A safe and warm environment with well-established rules and boundaries is a vital ingredient for building secure and confident children. Be aware of their relationships with their peers and siblings at school, at home and at extra-curricular activities to be sure they are safe within those relationships. .
Kids can be extremely cruel to each other especially if they have not learned to interact peaceably with others.
5. Encourage the Children to Take Some Risks and Make their own Choices
Encourage the children in you care to take some risks. This will help to build their self-confidence and enable them to confront those difficult decisions or problems they may encounter throughout their lives. I know it is hard to stand back and watch them do something where there is a risk of injury but within reasonable boundaries and with adequate safeguards in place, it is good for them to have a go. They may well fail in whatever it is they are attempting to do but they will have tried. Afterwards have a debrief and get them to examine if there could have been another better way to do that task.
The swimming pool is a good place to start with taking some risks. . They could attempt to jump in the deep without buoyancy and struggle afterwards. We had a family friend child who was terrified of going in the deep but once she conquered her fears and did it there was no stopping her. She just kept jumping in the water making big splashes.
6. Kids Learn Well Cooperatively
Organize for them some good collaborative experiences such as a bush camping activity where they work together with others to pitch a tent and set up camp. They can be involved in the preparation and cooking of food, the organization of games and hikes and the evening entertainment around the campfire. This involves them all in team work which will lead to a positive and memorable experience if they all pull their weight. If it fails they can have a team discussion to tease out why it failed and suggests things they could do better the next time. This teaches them responsibility and helps them develop social skills and the ability to work effectively with others.
7. Model Positive and Confident Behaviors.
Children learn a lot from their elders by what they observe. Ensure that what they do observe is allowing them to see the characteristics of happy and confident people, rather than people who are afraid to have a go, shy about interacting, failing to work as a team with others. These are not traits you children need to see. They need adults who themselves feel good about themselves. This will be difficult for some but if you lack confidence and you are a role model for children, then strategically work on developing you own strengths and be able to acknowledge you weaknesses.
8. Real Love is Unconditional.
Be sure to let you children children know with confidence that you love them no matter what happens, and show that nothing will change that. Your child ‘s self-esteem will be cemented in the confidence that no matter whether they fail or succeed, they will be loved. Continually work on ways to build and grow their self-esteem and feed them positive thoughts
If after all this you still feel concerned for you child s level of self-confidence then get some help.
I have a very effective set of tools to help build confidence and self-esteem in you children.
You could become a coach for children, parents and educators to make a huge difference in the lives of children in you neighborhood. Hit the link below.