By Beth Pinyerd
Before we exit from February, I want to mention that February is “International Boost Self-Esteem Month”. Classroom Observer would like to base this article on how to build confidence, security and self-esteem in the preschool years.
Self-Esteem is how we see ourselves and evaluate our own worth in satisfaction in oneself and self-respect. The very truth of self-esteem is that God smiles when He thinks of us. He tells us this in the Bible in Psalm 139:14 – “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.”
Guiding young children toward good self-esteem starts when children are very young, as infants. Self Esteem affects a child’s actions, health and friendships. Families, teachers and environments play a big integral part in establishing good self-esteem. What a responsibility, but gift we have in molding a young child to have good self-esteem.
Early childhood teachers observe the learning processes as well as the socialization of young children in their classrooms. There is a consistent need for preschoolers to have the feeling of security or belonging to family and friends. One classroom event that I have shared in Classroom Observer before but it is worth mentioning again is the Weekly Star Student program.
I learned this from other teachers, but I absolutely love to do with my young students in the early childhood classroom. You choose one ‘star student of the week’. I include all the children in my classroom in this positive encouragement celebration. During the week, a child is honored to be a star student. To be fair, I choose the students in alphabetical order. During the week, a child is honored to be a star student and he/she gets to sit at a specially decorated desk done by the children of the class.
Children draw pictures and send encouraging notes to the star student of the week. The parents and grandparents of the star student are invited into the classroom to share what is so special about their child or grandchild. Too, friends and buddies share why the star student is so special to them. It is very heartwarming to hear young children encouraging their friends. After so many years of teaching, this is a celebration of a young child’s life which encourages them for a lifetime. It delights this teacher’s heart to receive letters and Facebook messages from my students who are grown and have children of their own. They share with me how much this program of celebration planted a seed of encouragement in their hearts.
Normally our homes provide a place of refuge, security, peace and a sense we are loved and belong. You have heard the expression, “Home is where the heart is.” This expression means so much to a child’s growth, development and life. The home prepares a child emotionally, to learn new skills, learn rules of discipline and where they feel unconditionally loved and accepted. In the home is where parents and grandparents can be a role model of good self esteem for their younger children. Children are always observing adults very closely and they love to imitate us. If preschoolers see us happy, cheerful and self-assured, they will reflect and imitate this mindset. If adults laugh at our own mistakes, young children will learn that they can actually learn from their mistakes and correct them. I always share with my students that this is why we have erasers on pencils or backspace or delete on the computer.
Encourage your preschooler with praise, pats on the back and a can-do mindset. Present lessons in small steps, such as learning to clean up their rooms or helping with house chores. Start off with learning tasks that will not overwhelm your young child but will be easy for them to accomplish. Provide tasks in small steps that can be celebrated. Examples include picking up their toys and putting them in the right box or place on the shelf.
Verbal praise is so important for young children to hear when they have done a good job. Pats on the back or eye to eye contact or a wink saying, “I am proud of you” mean so much to children. Time spent with your child spells love.
Recognizing the strengths of your young child and how they are made will enable them to be all they can be. Offer them activities that enhance what they are inclined to do. This is a true gift that every child deserves. Talking and really listening to your child will truly win them over and they will see the love from your heart and that you care.
Young children need to solve their own problems when learning a new concept or skill. Developing good self-esteem will come with learning new concepts and skills. Be patient and prompt them to continue with praise, and more than anything show your child unconditional love for who they are. Knowing they are loved not for what they do but for who they are and how God made them will build good self-esteem for a lifetime!
Classroom Observer, Beth Pinyerd