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Embracing and Celebrating the Uniqueness of Children Is Critical!

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

Everyone needs to feel as though they belong, and fostering a sense of welcomeness is vital in building healthy self-esteem, one of the essential characteristics of pro-social behavior (PSB) necessary for optimal child development. Children developing positive self-esteem are likelier to display the resilience and flexibility necessary for future social success. When children feel welcome, accepted, and loved for who they are, strengths and weaknesses included, regardless of how they show up, they are more likely to face challenges with courage, strength, compassion, and self-the wherewithal to positively impact others (Meldrum, S., 2018).

A child's social, behavioral, and emotional health plays a crucial role in handling social and academic challenges and peer pressure while supporting the development of healthy social relationships throughout life. A child's connections to the adults around them support strengthening bonds through building connections that positively impact self-esteem. Children who securely form attachments as infants tend to have stronger self-esteem and self-reliance and are more independent. They also experience less depression and anxiety and are more likely to build successful social relationships (Cherry, 2019). This knowledge is critical in the formation of PSB and showcases the essential involvement of parents, caregivers, and teachers in the lives of young children.


Families must understand how to effectively support building a foundation of trust and self-esteem so that children learn how they can overcome challenges and embrace differences with the same respect and acceptance as they are shown. As expected, there is a right and wrong way of doing anything. Knowledge, resources, and careful planning are involved when building the foundation for PSB and self-esteem development. Modeling self-esteem, self-regulation, and self-help skills sets the stage for how a child learns to respond and react.


How to Effectively Support Building Positive Self-esteem and PSB Development Without Giving into to Your Child is Every Whim



Consistency is Key! If you say NO, mean it. If you have expectations, share them, be consistent, and avoid empty threats. If you find yourself negotiating with your children, STOP. You are in charge; they want and need boundaries for future success. Remember setting boundaries and saying NO are not taking away a child's autonomy; it is quite the opposite. The word NO is critical in developing a sense of autonomy and supports the development of skills for self-confidence, self-worth, and self-respect. It is also essential to recognize that in some instances, the word NO is imperative, but children need to know what the word NO means. Saying NO is sometimes necessary to protect children from harm and support future PSB development, but the key is to use the comment appropriately. No means No!

For children to develop healthy self-esteem, positive attitudes, patience, values, and clear expectations for behavior and conduct, parents must communicate and nurture limits consistent with their values, experiences, and knowledge. To encourage autonomy and remain consistent in supporting self-esteem skills in children, you can offer choices, create opportunities for independence, give them achievable tasks that excite them, and respect their opinions, feelings, and perspectives while labeling and validating them. Listen and allow your child time to work through challenges or disappointing situations (Meldrum, S., 2018).


Model the behavior you expect. Like any leader, we must start from within. To succeed, you must share expectations, boundaries, model, model, model! Parenting is hard. Make these words your new mantra, and let yourself be okay with hard parenting. When you start a new job or try a new skill, you do not expect it to be easy; it takes time, practice, and perseverance to achieve greatness. The same is true with effectively supporting and building PSB and positive self-esteem.

Finally, let go of parenting perfection; it does not exist! No one is perfect… let's face it, we are all perfectly imperfect! Sometimes, we show up as our BEST selves; sometimes, we do not, and we all will make mistakes. When this happens, I urge you to regroup, let yourself off the hook, and remember that you are a role model, the leader, and you are not meant to be perfect. Suppose you do not show up emotionally how you wish. In that case, all you need to do is communicate your feelings and reasoning to your child and, when applicable, say, “I am sorry for …”. These actions acknowledge the desire for betterment while teaching children to be resilient in similar situations. We must teach, model, and reinforce that we all make mistakes. The difference is to own, admit to, and learn from mistakes. These are just some critical forms of reinforcement that support PSB and self-esteem development and teach children that perfection is an illusion and that they are enough. Sharing expectations, setting boundaries, holding children accountable, and maintaining effective, respectful communication are critical elements in embracing and celebrating the uniqueness and individuality of each child while supporting PSB and self-esteem-building skills. Bravo to you, Parents; you are doing important work, and I am here to help.


Reference(s):


Cherry, K. (2019). How attachment theory works. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is- attachment-theory-2795337#how-the-

attachment-theory-developed


Gross, J., Stern, J, Brett, B., & Cassidy, J. (2017). The multifaceted nature of prosocial behavior in children: Link with attachment theory and research. Review of Social Development, 26. https://doi.org/10.1111/sode.12242.


Meldrum, S. (2018). The importance of saying No. https://www.wholekids.com.au/importancesayingno/#:~:text=The%20importance%20of%20saying%20the,self%20worth%20and%20self%20respect.


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