Strengthening Children’s Self-Concept

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"How we in different facets of environment can have positive influence on self-concept of children?" - I was once asked, which got me thinking: Could some of our actions or statements prove to be traumatic? And what follows is the answer to these questions.

Factors that help in strengthening children’s self-concept

Unconditional love

Make children feel wanted and truly loved: Children can sense pretense.
Genuinely enjoy being with them and be attentive to their individual needs. 

Give healing touch

Touch is stimulating and conveys affection.  
Have you ever kissed a child on her hurt?
The pain disappears like magic; yes it truly does. 

Be a role model

Children learn what they observe.
It is proved that by 6 years of age the major personality characteristics of a child are formed. This also makes me wonder if sending children into the outside world before 6 is wise. 

Acknowledge identity

  • Identity of oneself is another name for self concept.
  • Show infants and toddlers their image in mirror and pictures, so that they can identify self.
  • Give child a unique name soon after birth and always use it to address the child.
  • As they grow, identify their personal characteristics.
  • Relate to child’s family, ethnic background and nationality with due respect.

Encourage individuality

Allow children to have a say, an opinion and liberty to express anxiety; it not only boosts their self concept but also gives you a peep into their inner thoughts.

Listen and mark children’s every expression

Children's fears and anxiety may be hidden in their play, drawings or talks. Being attentive to their expressions can help us understand children's true feelings about themselves and the significant others in their environment: The knowledge that enables us to provide children with the necessary support for their self-concept.

Talk only when you must

This is something that adults commonly tell children, but seldom practice it with them: 

  • Disturb only if you can add to child's excitement, but not to interrupt. 
  • Do not ask questions unless sincerely puzzle, but not to boss around.
  • Vocalize genuine praise for meaningful feedback, but not for flattery.

Affirm good behaviour and don’t be ashamed of negative traits

  • Genuine appreciation makes children learn their strengths and weaknesses. 
  • Based on what significant others acknowledge about them, they will be able to accept their failings along with their virtues. 

Never criticise but guide

Guide children towards right path: Path can not be right just because we advocate it; children need explanation for it.

No sweeping judgmental statements

Sweeping judgmental statements such as ; you are a bad child. I am fed up of you and so on, are hurtful. They are injurious to child's self-concept. 

Give children enough opportunities to succeed

Success is a great booster of self-concept.  
However, Nobody can be successful all the time. Therefore, it is very important to reinforce that it’s OK to be unsuccessful now and then; there is always a second chance. 

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Liberty to stand on their own feet

  • Give them enough opportunities to make independent decision and then respect their decision. 
  • The pleasure of meeting challenges successfully is boundless; let children too enjoy it.  
  • Indeed, be there for them when they need you, but over protection hampers children’s development and injures their self image.  

Be impartial

Favoritism is as deleterious for psycho social development of the favored as for the children who are unable to win the favor of significant somebody in their environment.

  • Create an environment of cooperation and sharing.
  • Relate with equal respect, admiration and recognition.
  • Cultivate friendly atmosphere of mutual respect rather than obedience out of fear.

Accept your ignorance if any

Don't hold pretense in front of children; accept if you don't know. Let children know that no one is all knowledgeable and every one is learning.

Our genuineness will give children the strength to face the realities and strive to for betterment without lapsing in to poor self concept. 

Avoid clash in expectations

Clash in expectations of significant others in child's environment  and the peers confuse child’s self-concept.

From middle childhood on wards peer recognition holds strong in determining children’s self-concept.  

Parents and teachers usually value academic achievements and good social behavior, whereas peers often value physical appearance, social popularity, and athletic expertise.

To avoid personality conflicts in children, parents and teachers need to acknowledge growing children’s age dependent diversity of interest in outdoor games, music, techniques, stage art, creative and social fields.

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