Some Things Are Just as Important as Tying Shoes
by Auntie Em
Well now that our early literacy month campaign is over I have a story to share about the power of reading. On my visit with my friend Antoinette last week she told me about one of her 3-year old daughter’s classmates at preschool.
“I volunteered to help out on a trip to the zoo” she began and then suddenly threw out a comment about how they really need at least two more parents on these trips because one parent and the teacher was a nightmare. But before she could continue on this tangent of how quickly little feet can get away from an adult, I reminded her of the story she had started.
“Well,” she said. When we got out of the car and began to walk toward the zoo entry, I looked down and noticed that the little girl’s shoes were untied. I stopped, looked down and asked her to please tie them so she wouldn’t trip.”
Now we get to the good stuff.
With a serious face, the small child looked up at Antoinette and stated: “I can’t do that because I don’t know how to tie my shoes yet.” Then without missing a beat she added proudly with much self confidence, “But I can read!”
I loved this little girl’s response because it showed such great self-esteem. She didn’t feel badly about her shoes. She had the ability to do other things that were also just as important and she made certain that Antoinette understood her accomplishments. This was a perfect picture poster for Read Early, Read Aloud! Sure, tying shoes is a necessary skill but at 3 years she understood that reading is an accomplishment and something of which to be proud.
Building self-esteem begins in infancy, and by the time children reach the preschool years, they already have the foundation for their self-esteem. However, parents and preschool teachers can do many things to build on that base so that your child retains a sense of self-esteem throughout his growth and development.
“Self-esteem comes from having a sense of belonging, believing that we’re capable, and knowing our contributions are valued and worthwhile,” says a California family therapist. Children with good self-esteem are more resilient, weather storms more easily and perform with confidence because they expect positive outcomes. Want to help your preschooler build strong self-esteem early? Here’s how:
Foster Feelings of Belonging
Although preschoolers are a little young to base their self-esteem on the way their peers treat them, they do know if they are being excluded. Teaching your child skills so he plays well and gets along with others can improve his self-esteem. Even more important, though, is how adults relate to her. When adults respect, listen to, and respond readily to a preschooler’s needs, she feels loved and valued. She, in turn, will learn to respond to others that way.
Be a a class="zem_slink" title="Role model" rel="wikipedia" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role_model">Role Model
Parents who have good self-esteem foster it in their children. If you feel comfortable with yourself, chances are good your preschooler will feel good about himself. Children are great imitators, so when they see the adults around them displaying self-confidence and self-assurance, they learn those behaviors.
If you laugh at and learn from your mistakes, your child will realize errors can be corrected. Preschoolers who can risk making mistakes are more willing to try new things, to experiment and to learn new skills, which increases their self-esteem.
Foster a Can-Do Attitude
When your preschooler works hard and succeeds, point it out. Don’t just wait for him to reach his ultimate goal: celebrate small steps along the way by following these steps:
- Once he masters a skill, suggest a new one that will make him stretch a bit.
- Pick an activity that won’t overwhelm him or her, one that’s doable with a little extra effort.
- Reinforce the idea that she’s capable as she masters each new challenge.
Even small victories make your preschooler feel confident and bolster self-esteem.
Help your child to love and accept all parts of them, so that they may achieve wholeness, love and a lifelong connection to themselves and the world. The connection to the world and the self-acceptance that accompanies it are vital to healthy self-esteem, and encouraging a preschooler’s self-esteem is one of the most valuable gifts you can give.
The little girl in my story accepted the fact she couldn’t do everything yet, and it didn’t bust her confidence.
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