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Raising a Confident, Capable, Contented Child ~ Part 2

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Kid Companions- Chewelry: Raising a Confident, Capable, Contented Child ~ Part 2

February 1, 2011

Raising a Confident, Capable, Contented Child ~ Part 2

This is a "Best of the Best"  Post

First day of school stressful for child and parents
When a child starts school, parents feel they are loosing control over their child’s development and wonder and worry if their 5 year old is ready to open that classroom door. In the post Building Confidence and Self-Esteem Early on Education.com we read: "In first grade, children will start to understand who they are. They will also begin to recognize the feelings of others, and grasp how other people see them. Self-understanding combines these two concepts: developing confidence from the way in which you know yourself, and building self-esteem from understanding how others see you." So how can a parent work with the school in developing this self-understanding?

What Happens When Your Child Goes to School

Hopefully his teachers will constantly be trying to do the same thing as you have. And that is to nurture a self-advocating, confident, little person who acts independently and gladly accepts new challenges. A hint to his teacher about his interests and skill in certain areas will help the teacher know how to shine the light on your child to let him experience success to build his self worth.

Raising children with high self-esteem must be done as team work with the school. First, all must know your child’s weaknesses and his strengths so efficient intervention is arranged. Work with his teacher and know what both you and the school expect of this little soul under your care. Know what his potential is and work with that. Genuine appreciation for his efforts as well as his results will go a long way in the overall happiness and success of your child.

Lillian Katz writes in her article How Can We Strengthen Children's Self-Esteem? "A child's sense of self-worth is more likely to deepen when adults respond to the child's interests and efforts with appreciation rather than just praise. For example, if your child shows interest in something you are doing, you might include the child in the activity...In this way, you respond positively to your child's interest by treating it seriously. Flattery and praise, on the contrary, distract children from the topics they are interested in. Children may develop a habit of showing interest in a topic just to receive flattery."

Can the Bar Be Too High

Do not compare his results with his peers, with his siblings and even with his progress in other areas. He is his own man, strengths and weaknesses. I have seen too often, sullen, listless children in my classrooms who have completely given up trying because they feel nothing they do will be good enough for their parents who have set the bar too high.

Tollefson, N. (2000) in Classroom applications of cognitive theories of motivation. Educational Psychology Review  recommends that we help children see success as improvement. With this approach, the child will see the value of small steps, of trying new strategies and will experience success that in turn will motivate him to try even harder.

A friend told me she believes in providing Step Stools instead of lowering the bar. Her step stools would include new paths, remedial help, counseling, after school and summer holiday tutors.

Many sites have tips
on starting school
These measures are all good and sometimes essential but the goals must remain realistic. I am talking of students as young as 8 or 9 years of age with no spark left, just despair as they think of the new, promised toy they will never get as a reward for better results.

What About Gifts for Achievement

What about gift giving as a carrot to get your child to strive for higher grades? Once more, focus on a reachable goal, one that is fun for the child, facilitated by the parents’ involvement and an attainable outcome for his teachers.

Celebrate small steps, reward daily effort and progress and do not wait for the big ending or there will never be one. Many special needs parents have coined a new word ‘inchstone’. They rejoice with each inchstone their child makes while lucky others can celebrate milestones.

Parents, Be Proactive and Present

This is not rocket science. Parents must interact with that little being every day. Formulate open-ended questions about his day so a response with emotions and thought is required as an answer. Know what your child finds difficult and figure out a way with him and his teacher to remedy the problem before it escalates. Know what he finds fun, what interests him and can do well and celebrate effort and minor achievements.

Carmen Y. Reyes, MSE wrote: "Learned helplessness is the belief that our own behavior does not influence what happens next; that is, behavior does not control outcomes or results... we need to help learned helpless children recognize and take credit for the skills and abilities that they already have. In addition, we need to develop in children the belief that ability is incremental, not fixed; that is, effort increases ability and skills." Therefore parents must be  proactive to catch problems as soon as they arise; thus paving the road to 'incremental successes'.

Moreover, every school day, parents should check what is in their child’s school bag. This gives another occasion to discuss his day as you go over what he brought home.

We had friends from Switzerland who were paying us a visit. One day, when our young son arrived from school, he emptied his school bag on the table, like he always did, and I casually picked up a few drawings, made some comments and asked him a few questions all in French, the language of our home. Our Swiss, German speaking visitor came in the kitchen and said pointing to the opened school bag: “Parents in all countries, in all languages do the same things each day.” Taking  these few minutes each day can make your child's whole day at school much better.

Why Checking School Bags Is Important

 Children with high self-esteem are
 proud of themselves,
assume responsibility for their own actions
 and deal with frustration well.
I remember having worked long and hard on individual projects with my Grade 3 students. The students all had accomplished so much and were all excited to show them to their parents. The many hours of research, writing, editing, illustrating and coloring finished, the projects were safely put in envelopes addressed to their parents and tucked in the school bags.

The bell rings and my happy troupe trots of to the buses. Cleaning up after school, I found one of the projects crushed and dumped in the trash can. The next day, after a troubling, sleepless night, I discreetly sneaked a conversation with this child to know why he did not bring his project home. Answer: “I might as well dump it in the garbage here, my parents empty my bag into our home garbage without looking at anything!”

At 9 years of age, this little boy had loss the race even before leaving the stating gate… in University did I learn how to mend broken hearts and broken spirits?
Collaboration, Cheerleading and Caring will render your children, Special Needs or not, well adjusted, independent, resilient citizens of tomorrow.

Can you add to the list of what to do to raise a confident, capable and contented child?

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4 Comments:

At February 15, 2011 at 10:34 PM , Blogger TherExtras said...

That last story was a bit heartwrenching. Do parents like that read here...hopefully many teachers will. Barbara

 
At February 15, 2011 at 11:17 PM , Blogger Pierrette and Lorna dEntremont said...

Thanks, Barbara, for stopping by and leaving a comment. It is always difficult to reach a certain percentage of parents. Perhaps the parents who do not show up at school activities or parent/teacher conferences will now be easier to reach by using the internet.

 
At February 24, 2011 at 9:14 PM , Anonymous Trish said...

How sad for that little boy to grow up not being valued by his parents.

At times it seems that there is way too much focus on my son's deficits and challenges, and this just makes him feel like he can't do anything right. One thing I have done is stop the discussion about him in front of him. If he is there, he needs to be part of the conversation and if it's not appropriate for him to be involved in a particular conversation then we will need to hold it at a different time.

 
At February 24, 2011 at 10:23 PM , Blogger Pierrette and Lorna dEntremont said...

Thanks Trish for your comment. Yes, I think you are doing the right thing in not discussing your child in front of him unless he is included in the conversation.

To help your son feel more confident, like you said, perhaps too much focus in on the negative side of things and you should try to get him involved in things he likes and can do well.

The Best with all this!

 

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