Even in the first week of school, it can be easy for adults to remain calm and balance their work, family and personal lives, but for children, change can be scary. When the excitement of summer break ceases, new teachers, people, experiences and things to learn are introduced; this can make the brightest, most confident of children lose their cool. At an early age, we paint a mental picture of ourselves and our self-esteem. As parents, it is crucial that we keep up with our child's self-esteem, providing encouragement, assurance and unconditional support as they grow. Self-esteem levels in children vary, as some are handed different experiences and responsibilities than others. Children with low self-esteem often have themselves trapped in negative thoughts such as “I can't do this” and “I will never be good at this,” and they develop these habits over time that cause them to avoid taking risks and stepping out of their comfort zones. Children troubled by low levels of self-esteem are easily-influenced by others, more susceptible to bullying and often shy and reserved; thinking they will never “fit in” or make friends, children with low self-esteem find it difficult to have fun and seem to rely on toxic behaviors such as cheating on school assignments or tests and falling victim to peer pressure, according to SimplePsychology.org.
Keeping up with our child's self-image is crucial in order for them to succeed in life. On the other side of the spectrum, children with high levels of self-esteem find it easier to meet new people, try new things and keep a positive attitude. Here are some tips from the National Association of School Psychologist to boost your child's self-esteem throughout the school year: Give your child effective praise. Instead of saying a simple “good job,” be specific. Say something such as “I liked the way you cleaned up your toys today. You put them in all the correct places!” Giving children internal satisfaction allows them to feel accomplished without expecting treats or handouts. Listen. Lending an ear can always help a child feel like they matter. Avoid judgmental responses and instead listen thoughtfully and respectfully. Develop activities that help them reach success. Find workbook activities to do together after dinner or before bed that can help them understand math, reading or writing. There are all sorts of workbooks out there to make learning fun for children. Let them know they are defined more than their grades, but push them to try their best without being too hard. Most students believe success lies within that big art project or math quiz. While getting good grades is important when moving up the ladder, putting less pressure on the matter will help a child be more at ease.