As parents, we want our children to have solid self-esteem to build on as they grow up and face the choices and challenges of becoming healthy, happy, fulfilled adults. Self-confidence is an essential ingredient in the recipe for a rewarding life. The Montessori Method is especially mindful of your child’s developing self-esteem and its ultimate connection to academic, social, and emotional abilities. Here are five ways to help your children find their own self-confidence:
1) Embrace Differences
Your child is unique and that’s a beautiful thing…even if it doesn’t always feel that way. At times, our children’s differences can feel so…well…different, that we parents struggle to accept them. Perhaps your child really loves upside-down basket weaving or is enthralled with collecting crawly bugs–alas, sometimes it’s best to push aside our preferences and allow the child to pursue her own. (And there is always the possibility she’ll satisfy her curious curiosities and move on to something else.) As a general rule, people who are allowed to pursue their true interests are far more likely to have a solid sense of self.
We must recognize that he [the child] is more than just our progeny, more than just a creature who is our greatest responsibility. We must study him not as a dependent creature, but as an independent person.… ~ Maria Montessori
We want our children to make smart (and safe) decisions, especially in their teen and early adult years. So start fostering their decision-making skills now. Instead of telling him what to do, involve your child in dialog about why we do the things we do. For example, instead of just saying, “pick up those toys,” ask your child why it is a good idea to pick up our things: so they don’t get broken, so no one trips and gets hurt, etc. This gives the child the opportunity to arrive at the “right” conclusion on his own which teaches him how to think, not what to think.
3) Demonstrate Kindness
One of the best ways to help your child to feel good about herself is to teach her to help others. According to this Harvard Report, “Parents who don’t prioritize their children caring for others can deprive them of the chance to develop fundamental relationship skills, and strong relationships are one of our most vital and durable sources of well-being.” In other words, the best way to feel good is to do good. Show empathy and compassion toward others, and help your child understand that she is not the only person on this planet. Think about how good you felt the last time that you helped someone out. Now don’t you want to show your child this sure-fire way to a positive self-esteem?
4) Acknowledge Emotions
Resist the temptation to dismiss your child’s emotions—no matter how trivial they seem to you. All emotions are valid. And all emotional experiences are real. Instead of judging your child’s displays of emotion, strive to help him understand what it is he’s feeling. Talk about the various different emotions and try not to label them as bad or good. Allow your child to talk about his feelings openly and don’t shame him for his emotional reactions. Accepting that all emotions are real–whether we like them or not—is an important step toward self-acceptance and self-confidence.
Joy, feeling one’s own value, being appreciated and loved by others, feeling useful and capable of production are all factors of enormous value for the human soul. ~ Maria Montessori
Acknowledging your child’s emotions is not the same thing as giving in to temper tantrums. When your child is in the midst of a meltdown, she feels out of control, maybe even frightened, by the strength of her own feelings. She needs you to make her feel safe, secure, and back in control. You can do this by staying calm and sticking to your rules and boundaries. Though it may sometimes feel like giving in is the kinder thing to do, remind yourself that a firm hug feels much more reassuring than a loose grip.
She must help these tiny beings, who are scampering downhill towards a precipice, to turn about and climb again. She must call to them, wake them up, by her voice and thought. A vigorous and firm call is the only true act of kindness towards these little minds.… ~ Maria Montessori
Parents, don’t miss your child’s opportunities for growth – Release your child’s full potential!
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