The first is their personality type - some personalities are very outgoing and others are more timid. Does being shy mean you lack self esteem? Not necessarily, I am a very outgoing person and have put on a good show at times in my life that I was full of confidence and self-esteem when really I lacked both. Just because a person makes a lot of friends does not necessarily mean they are full of confidence, they could be codependent and lack the ability to be happy on their own and therefore have learned how to make friends with others. So bear in mind that just because your child is shy they may have a very healthy self esteem and are completely o.k. with themselves and their ability, they may just be uncomfortable with getting out of their comfort zone - which is not a confidence issue, but more of learning that sometimes life is uncomfortable.
The second thing to consider is their temperament - this means how they react to people, changes, and environments. There are three different types of temperament: easy, slow to warm up and difficult. A person with an easy temperament is a go with the flow kind of person. They can adapt well and quickly to change, they tend to be more easy going with life, people enjoy being around them. A slow to warm up person is one who likes to sit back and observe and gradually adapts to changes, new circumstances, new surroundings, new routines. A difficult temperament resists all change, all new things, all new people. If things aren't the way they like it then they are not happy with it. It is important to understand what your child's temperament is and your own because this is not something that a child can control or change. I will do a more in depth post about temperament but if you want to know more before then you can go here to read information about working with children based on their temperament.
The last thing to consider are the individual issues of the child. Are they developmentally delayed in any way? are they a perfectionist? Are they afraid of making mistakes, are they often bullied, are they highly intelligent, are they a minority? All of these factors are going to play into a child's level of confidence and will need extra help in overcoming them.
So how to help children gain self-esteem? This information is from a handout I received in my Human Growth and Development class and so I am going to post it like a handout and then have you ask questions about what you don't understand otherwise this post will be very long. I have a sick 2 year old so I will be by computer all day to answer questions - just leave a comment and I will try to answer within the hour. (I have to feed a newborn and nursing and typing is pretty difficult).
- Child must have a sense of self
- There is a need for belonging and significance in the life of others.
- There is a need for a sense of personal power and autonomy
- There is a need for life skills and this include the power to manage their own behavior and relationships with others
- Every time you 'over-function' or take responsibility for a child's feelings of self-esteem they will 'under-function!'
- Teach Skills
- Help child face challenges and build their own competence
- Expectations must be age appropriate
- We must know what is age appropriate for each child - and allow for individual differences.
- Role-play with kids different scenarios to help them learn social skills
- ACCEPT THE CHILD YOU HAVE - not the child you wish you had
- learn to manage your criticism
- be realistic
- Help children soar with their strengths
- Provide Structure
- Provide safety and security
- Engage in authoritative teaching and parenting
- Have a schedule
- Invite Cooperation
- ask children for cooperation
- look for solutions instead of assigning blame
- Really listen to the child - and listen with your lips together!
- Use Encouragement, not praise
- Reward individual children for their effort
- Articulate children's success for them