Establishing and Protecting Our Children’s Sense of Worth
From The Happy Child set of talks and materials
Your child is growing and developing through every experience, every day. Some of this growth is visible – but much of it is deep rooted. This is affecting the ways they think about themselves, and the world around them. It is affecting how they consider themselves to be measuring up; both in your eyes and in the eyes of those whose opinion they think matters. So ask yourself whether your child’s sense of worth is developing in healthy ways?
Through every interaction children evaluate the degree of recognition and respect they feel they are deserving of
With greater access to social media, and mental health issues increasingly on the rise, we need to be mindful of the messages we are communicating to our children. Now more than ever.
And with each generation seeing their independence increasingly restricted, children’s opportunities to establish a sense of who they are is under threat.
Be mindful of the experiences you are offering your child and the opportunities that they bring
As children develop a sense of who they are, they need to have opportunities to see what they can do. What their bodies are capable of and the benefits of trying that little bit harder; of pushing that little bit further.
They need to develop a sense of competence through the tasks they perform – and complete – for themselves. Don’t be afraid if this comes with some frustrations, give them the words to talk this through with you. Let them see the small victories, rather than becoming discouraged on root to a bigger goal.
Remind them of all the great things they have achieved when they put in that extra effort
Build their confidence through the experiences of their own success that you can offer them. Start small and notice the victories that are important to them, even if this is not quite where your focus tends to be. Every time you draw their attention to these moments, you are making these lasting memories more powerful.
And be careful of the value you unintentionally attach to things by the language that you use. How you praise their efforts and achievements; how you refer to different people – and yourself – even when you think your child is not listening. It all has an impact on them.
You are the biggest influence on how your child’s opinions and beliefs are forming
And this applies not just to the world around them, but also in the ways they view themselves. So be careful of the language you use around them. And the worth you attach to things that they have no control over in themselves. Think about your reactions when you talk about other people, the things you praise or criticise. And ask yourself; is your child’s sense of worth developing in healthy ways?
Children listen to everything that they hear. They are taking it all in, long before they have the words to ask you why. Subconsciously, these messages are becoming linked to their own feelings of worthiness, their ideas of self-respect, value and ultimately self-esteem. And as this becomes linked with images and opinions supplied by social media, we can see how children are asking themselves; “Do I measure up?”
Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods. Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child. www.nurturingchildhoods.co.uk
DEVELOPING EVERY CHILD’S POTENTIAL