Developing Your Child's Self Identity
By Esther Andrews
There is no need to explain why it is so important for your child's development to have a sound and positive self identity. How your child thinks about herself will determine her future, her destiny.
You, the parent, have a major role in the development of your child's self image. You can influence this development deliberately and at will.
Here is a technique to do just that. This is appropriate for school age children. However, if your child is younger, you can adapt it to your child's individual age and development.
Start by having a conversation. Ask your child how peers at school would describe her. Make a list of features and character traits your child comes up with. Then ask how teachers and other adults in her life would describer her, and keep writing them down. Next add to the list the character traits that your child would like to have. What kind of person would he like to be? How would he like to be seen by his friends? If your child doesn't immediately come up with a reply, let her think about it. This is not an exercise that you do in minutes. You can also make suggestions, but let your child decide which traits he chooses.
You will want to do this process with your child regularly, and the list will change over time.
After you feel that you have a good list, take out anything negative or with a negative connotation, and leave only the positive in your list.
Now ask your child to describe each trait in the list. Write down the description of each trait. What does it mean to her?.
Go to a dictionary, and understand with your child exactly what the dictionary definition is of that trait.
With each step, for each word, decide if you want to include this word or not. You will discover that some words are not appropriate to keep. You can also use a thesaurus to find other words that describe more closely what both of you wanted to include.
Keep the whole list for future reference, however at this point, it is advisable to choose the most important 3 or 4 character traits.
When you get to this point, know that you have done a tremendous amount of work. Pat yourself on the back, and praise your child enthusiastically.
Please know that this whole process can be spread over several days, and done while you are driving, eating dinner or doing many other activities. The important thing is to remember and write down the character traits your child and you come up with.
Once you have the 3 or 4 most important features, write them down in a sentence, in present tense. Example: "I am a strong, intelligent person. I am hard working and a leader". This is now a sentence you want to repeat as often as you can. You can use arts and crafts to create a wall hanging or a poster and hang it up in your child's room. You can create together a screen saver for the computer, so that the first thing your child sees when he goes to the computer is this sentence. Repeat it to your child at least a few times a day. Sing it - see if your child can come up with a melody to turn it into a song. Use your creativity and imagination to see in how many ways you can have your child repeat it, read it hear it, sing it in a day. Make it a routine.
This process will benefit your child, but what about you? You can use the same process for you too, it will change your life!
Esther Andrews has grown 2 highly gifted children, and managed the 'School of Gifted Education' for many years.