“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
--George Bernard Shaw
We all focus on the big moments in our children’s lives, how much they’ve grown, developmental milestones, academic goals, but sometimes, we need to take a step back and realize that there’s more to child development than the external. There’s a lot of development that comes into play in mindfulness, positive growth, communication skills, self-worth, and self-confidence.
How do you teach these skills to children? Let’s break it down and look at just a few ways that we can help.
Our word choices are very important to our young ones. Making small changes to the choices of words that you use will make a huge impact on your child’s thoughts. Try either substituting or putting into practice some positive word choices in your vocabulary. For example, when you are ready to clean up to go somewhere, ask them to help you do a specific task. Tell them how kind they are for helping, how they used their strong muscles to put that bin back, and how careful they were to make sure that each toy was taken care of. Use words that describe the wholesome attributes that you see in them.
Enabling your child to make their own choices and offering specific praise is a great way to boost self-esteem and confidence. Early on, offer simple choices that you are completely fine with. The red cup or the blue one? This chair or that one? Get a bath in one minute or four? After they choose, use positive words such as, “that’s a great one!” “You got it!” “Great decision!” As they get older, offer more serious choices and start talking through consequences. If they would like to shower at night or in the morning. Both have their pros and cons. Talk through them with your child and let them make their choice. The ability to realize you have a choice, think through the consequences, and make a decision starts early in life. Be there for them from the beginning and they will have the confidence to make decisions for themselves later.
Every day, all day, we utilize our problem-solving skills. Our children need support too as they learn these skills. As they are playing and working through the day, observe how they are solving their problems. A friend or sibling took a toy, how did they respond? Their lego tower keeps falling down, do they cry and give up? Do they try different techniques to finish a puzzle? Model and scaffold some techniques that they can use. When they are struggling with a puzzle, model, and talk through the ways the pieces fit. Then, let them try the next piece while offering gentle help with pointing and small reminders. Let them try again and again! Offer praise abundantly.
It’s easy to communicate when we are happy and content. But what about when we are feeling stressed or anxious? How do we expect our children to use their words when they are feeling sad, frustrated, or angry when they don’t have many examples? Try taking an opportunity to share your feelings with your kids. An example might be when you’re feeling stressed when you get home. You could talk about what problem you’re facing, what you are feeling about that problem, and how you are going about to solve the problem. Talk about taking how you are taking deep breaths and perhaps counting to a certain number. Think about what you would like your child to do when they are feeling intense emotions and show them that you also use these techniques. Encouraging them to talk through what makes them nervous, happy, stressed, and content will create an opportunity to work through how they handle those emotions and reactions.
Positive mindsets and emotional growth can be more than something that you write down or put on a poster, it can be something that you work on mindfully every day and practice with your family.
“You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better. By becoming a little better each and every day, over a period of time, you will become a lot better.”