With the start of a new year, there is plenty in the media about a “new year, new you”! Maybe, though, it is more about “new year, more you” and having more confidence in who you already are and being the best possible version of yourself. This is something we try to instil in the children and, as part of this, plan opportunities and activities for them to develop their self-awareness and self-confidence. This supports their Personal, Social and Emotional Development, in line with our early years framework, the EYFS.
As carers, we have to be sensitive to the messages we give about a child’s sense of self-worth and it is being increasingly more understood how this can have an impact on future experiences. This starts with our youngest children, who begin to understand that they are their own being and have a physicality that they can explore. As they grow, children start to recognise more about themselves and what they can do, but this also leads to recognition of what others can do and can being to cause some insecurity as they start to think about themselves in relation to others.
So, what can we do to try to promote positive self-image and self-worth?
- With babies, smiling and interacting with them warmly shows that they are important and starts to plant the seed of positive self-image
- Achievement shouldn’t be the only way that children receive approval. Rather than asking children if they know things, try to explore things together – for example rather than ‘Can you count these?’, try ‘Let’s count these together’
- Self-reliance is important to a positive self-image and so often it is a good idea to encourage children to be more independent rather than relying on adults
- Children need to understand that they are valued just for being exactly who they are – through conversation and discussion about themselves and how special that makes them
- Children also need help to navigate the ups and downs of life that can have such an impact on their self-esteem. We need to acknowledge their frustrations but gentle guide them towards taking control of the situation and solving problems.
Children are not the only ones who often need to be supported with their self-esteem – it can be a challenge for us as adults too! Let’s start off 2019 by being kinder to ourselves and showing children what it means to have self-confidence and self-awareness.
Who knows what they could then achieve?