The Recipe For The Making Of A Self-Assured Child:
Each child carries a unique picture of the self, shaped in part by the influence of parents. Your child is not born with a self-image or self-assurance. Both traits are learned through experiences beginning from birth.
But who is the self-assured child? Simply put, it is the child who is confident of their self-worth, and their talents and abilities. A confident and outgoing child, who is not afraid to show the world all the unique ways in which he / she shines. The process of making a self-assured child begins at birth. Children are born with clean slates and do not implicitly know and understand their self-worth. The seeds of self-assurance and self-esteem, therefore, must be carefully sown by the adult figures in a child's life.
Let's take a look at 3 'year old Jennifer:
Jennifer attends pre-school. As part of the year-end wrap up, Mom and Dad meet with Jen's pre-school teacher, Mrs. Hamilton.
Mrs. Hamilton tells Jen's parents that she has noted that Jennifer is always seeking feedback on her accomplishments. "When Jennifer finishes a drawing," notes Mrs. Hamilton, "she is undoubtedly never sure if it is good, and, therefore, fails to exhibit any happiness. Instead, she asks her teachers for re-assurance that the drawing is beautiful and has made them happy."
Jennifer's parents have noted similar behavior at home and during play dates with other children. "Jennifer has tremendous difficulty making selections from colors of crayons to food," states Jennifer's mother. "If I ask her what she'd like for dinner, she always asks 'What are my choices?' and I begin to narrow the selections for her. Sometimes, I even make the decision for her. No matter what I choose 'even if it's her favorite meal 'Jennifer's never happy and always demands to know why she has to eat that." Mrs. Hamilton tells Jennifer's parents that she too has noted that Jennifer will talk back to a teacher or adult in charge, demanding an explanation for having to follow direction. "No matter how many times we try to talk to her," notes Jennifer's father, "she doesn't seem to have an awareness of her behaviors."
The following suggestions may help you raise self-assured children:
- Praise your child: Applause the effort, not just the outcome. Start early and give genuine compliments freely and honestly.
- Observe your child's schoolwork and other activities: Offer your child constructive feedback on their work, this will allow your child to have a safe and realistic view of themselves
- Frame social interactions: Give your child the boundaries with which to speak and respond appropriately to others
- Outline choices: Allow your child to choose from a limited amount of choices. Providing too many will overwhelm the child and may cause frustration and confusion - Lead: Always keep a watchful eye and take charge when necessary Keep In Mind: The process of building self-esteem needs to begin at birth but it's never too late to implement positive behaviors.
The recipe for success in raising a self-assured child is simple; connect with your child through positive interactions and communications, and offer unconditional love and support.
You will forever have an impact upon the manner in which your child interacts and feels about themselves. Reach for assistance from a professional if you have any questions.
About the Author
Dr. Charles Sophy currently serves as Medical Director for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. He also has a private psychiatry practice in Beverly Hills, California.
Dr. Sophy is the author of the "Keep 'Em Off My Couch" blog and provides real simple answers for solving life's biggest problems. To contact Dr. Sophy, visit his blog at http://drsophy.com.