Being confident in who you are, begins from a young age. Did you know that the first five years in a child’s life are the foundation that helps shape their future? The brain develops more than any other time in life which makes it the most important time to learn how to love who you are. There are many steps you can take as a parent to help them feel safe and secure which aids in having a positive self-image.
At The Academy of Early Learning, our goal is to help each child become a self-assured, independent, life-long learner. We provide a stimulating environment for children to learn and express themselves while developing and protecting a positive self-image in the child.
To help you do this at home, we’ve put together a list of things you can do to encourage self-assurance and respect.
- Assign age-appropriate chores
Age-appropriate independence is important. Basic tasks allow children to begin to understand how to take care of themselves. It gives them a sense of true accomplishment.
Some suggestions for age-appropriate chores – cleaning up after themselves after meals, choosing clothes for the day, getting themselves dressed, buckling their seat belt, etc.
While it may be quicker and easier to do it yourself, it won’t help to make your child more self-sufficient. Resist doing for your children what they can do themselves.
Putting your preschooler in charge of a regular, simple task will build their confidence and sense of competency. Let them solve simple problems.
If you see your child trying to assemble a toy or get a book from a shelf, pause before racing over to help; let them develop some problem-solving skills. Assign a chore. A child who is entrusted to water the plants or empty the dishwasher is likely to believe they can also get themselves dressed or pour their own cereal.
Be sure the chore you assign is manageable and that it’s real work, not busy work since even preschoolers know the difference. The goal is to make your child feel like a capable, contributing member of the family.
- Remind them no one is perfect
Somehow the message that you must be “perfect” to be loved and accepted is a very common belief. The way that you react to your child’s mistakes, failures, disappointments, and distress will play a huge role in how they feel about themselves.
Continuously remind your child that we are all unique, with different talents. We learn and grow differently and this life is a journey of always learning and growing and that setbacks and sadness are a part of that journey. You will love them no matter what.
Always encourage your child to try new things and push their comfort zone because as we all know, it’s out of our comfort zone that we gain the most. Be an example of this yourself. Let your child witness you solving a problem. Talk to them about your imperfections and let them know that even with shortcomings, you are the person you are because of them.
Help break the stigma that you should be happy all the time. It’s okay to be sad and have bad days and feel off. You will still be there, loving and supporting them every step of the way.
- Give them opportunities to make choices
This one can be tough. As a parent or caregiver, you want to eliminate the tough times your child will have to experience and think that telling them how they should do things will prevent their hardships. When you choose this route, yes, you may be “helping” them short term, but in the long run, they will become teenagers and adults and not understand how to make choices.
Finding little things that allow them to choose such as, whether to have tacos or spaghetti for dinner or if they would rather wear a red or green shirt to school, are simple decision-makers but HUGE to your preschooler.
Let them choose the family activity for the weekend or what song to listen to in the car. As they grow older the decisions will get trickier and they will have the confidence it will take to make the choice that suits them.
- Promote positive body image
Our body is our home. Children will need guidance on how to care for and love their bodies. Explain to them the importance of personal hygiene, eating healthy, being physically active, getting enough sleep, and drinking enough water and how they all lead to a healthy and happy body.
A 3-year old may be curious why their body looks a certain way or why their skin color is a different shade than their friends at school, this is completely normal and should be used as a time to talk about celebrating differences.
Genetics plays a huge role in how the body develops and changes and as age. From the time your child is young, introduce the idea of gratitude, teach them how to be thankful for your body no matter its shape, size, or color.
Let them search for their own unique style by trying new clothes and hairstyles. Compliment them on their taste and remind them that it’s perfectly acceptable to be different and express themselves through fashion.
- Establish routines
We all do much better when we have a routine. Nobody likes to be rushed or unprepared with transitions during the day, so help set your child up for success by letting them pick out their clothes for preschool the night before, pack their lunches with things they look forward to eating, assist with getting their backpacks ready so that the morning routine will run smoothly.
Families with children that choose to follow a daily routine tend to be healthier, better behaved, and even perform better in school. Finding the best morning routine for your family can take some experimentation, but it will give your preschooler a strong foundation and the confidence they need for a successful day ahead.
Having an after school & evening routine is just as important. It is always good to know what you are going to be doing after preschool pickup. This gives your child a sense of moving on to the next thing rather than focusing on what they have left behind.
- Spend one-on-one time
This goes hand in hand with creating a routine. Schedule time in your calendar where you specifically set a few hours aside each week dedicated to each child. This can be going on a picnic, going on a bike ride, or visiting their favorite toy store or restaurant. It’s an excellent opportunity to reconnect after a busy week and see how they are feeling. Turn your phone off and don’t allow other distractions during this special time.
Your child looks to you as an example. They yearn for your attention and affection. When you show them that your quality time alone with them is necessary and meaningful it will reassure them and give them a feeling of safety.
If weekly dates are just not realistic, make bedtime the time where they receive your undivided attention. Cuddle with them and ask them about their day. Remind them how much you love them and talk about three things you’re grateful for and two things you admire about them.
- Read, sing & play regularly
Reading books with your child is great bonding time, and often the books will spark a great discussion. Books are wonderful opportunities to create dialogue, address children’s fears, and maybe explain something that we parents couldn’t find the words to express. Read their favorite books & your favorite books and maybe visit a library or book fair to explore even MORE books.
As often as you read, you should also sing! Singing improves communication. Babies are pre-programmed to want to listen to melodies and sound patterns. It helps build a connection and bond between the singer and the one who is listening. You can help teach lessons through song lyrics, tempos, key changes & facial expressions. Try singing lullabies at night to help calm & soothe your child. It’s especially fun to sing during playtime.
Playing with your child is something they will remember forever. Get down on their level and play with their toys or teach them a new game. Children love to play hide and seek or act like animals. Try to be in the present moment and even if the game they want to play seems silly and unstructured, go with it! Tell them you love how creative they are and something you really love about the game.
Whether you are just looking around or are interested in enrolling your child immediately, we are excited to learn more about you and your family! We look forward to helping you make the best choice for your big decision. We will follow up with more information tailored for the age of your child shortly and to answer any questions you may have. In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like to book a tour, do not hesitate to call us at 508-403-0118. Spots fill up fast!