13th ECD Knowledge Building Seminar
Powergirls 2020


self esteem or respect confidence and pride psychology

In ECD we work with children 0 to 4 years and give the children activities which are developmentally appropriate where they are able to learn through play. We work closely with not only the children but with caregivers, where we try to involve them in the activities, so that they can also play with children and do fun activities with them at home.

During our visits to the ECD centres or playgroups, we see that each child is different and unique in their own special way, and that their developmental needs are different.

During the visits with the playgroups / ECD centres, we observe children and see how they interact, communicate and play with other children.

One of the things observed, is a lack of self-esteem in some children, and this is something that we cannot ignore as it grows in children and causes serious mental harm, as well as affects their future in a negative manner. A lack of self-esteem creates problems as the child grows into adulthood, and unless you are qualified to diagnose this as a specialist in the field, we can only use the information to find out if there is anything to be concerned about, and then if required, refer to a specialist.

Here are some signs of low self-esteem in children:

  • The child quits soon after beginning a game or a task, giving up at the first sign of frustration.
  • The child avoids a task or challenge without even trying, which can show a sense of helplessness.
  • The child could cheat or lie when they believe they are going to lose a game or do poorly.
  • The child can act babylike or very silly. These types of behaviour can invite teasing and name-calling which can make it more difficult for the child.
  • The child can become controlling and bossy as ways of hiding feelings of inadequacy, frustration, or powerlessness.
  • The child can make excuses (“The teacher is dumb”) or downplays the importance of events (“I don’t really like that game anyway”).
  • The child can lose interest in usual activities.
  • The child can withdraw socially, losing or having less contact with friends.
  • The child can experience changing moods, exhibiting sadness, crying, angry outbursts, frustration, or quietness.
  • The child can make self-critical comments, such as “I never do anything right,” “Nobody likes me,” “I’m ugly,” “It’s my fault,” or “Everyone is smarter than I am.”
  • The child can have difficulty accepting either praise or criticism.
  • The child can become overly concerned or sensitive about other people’s opinions of him.
  • The child can seem to be strongly affected by negative peer influence, adopting attitudes and behaviors like a dislike for school, and acting disrespectful.
  • The child can be either overly helpful or never helpful at home.

If you have observed 3 or more of these signs in a child, it is then important to share this information with the caregiver and find out if the caregiver has also identified any of these signs in the child. Your approach with the child needs to be caring and kind and you need to keep in mind that there are factors affecting his/her behaviour.

Here are a few ways to encourage positive self-esteem in children:

1. Stop and allow children to make a decision:

Step back and let your child take certain risks, make choices, solve problems and stick with what they start.

2. Don’t overpraise:

Praise children when they have done something good, but do not over praise them, as kids start thinking they’re perfect or they try to be perfect all the time—an impossible standard. 

3. Let your child take healthy risks:

Start by forcing yourself to stand back while your child takes healthy risks, where you are not in any way, endangering the child, but allowing them to make a decision and try something.

4. Let kids make their own choices:

When kids make their own age-appropriate choices, they feel more powerful. Allow them the opportunity to make their own decisions.

5. Let them help around the house:

Even when they’re young allow them to help with cooking, setting the table and making beds or any other help around the house.

6. Encourage them to pursue their interests:

Another sure-fire way to boost confidence in kids is to encourage them to take on tasks they show interest in, then make sure they follow through to completion.

7.Make it clear that your love is unconditional:

Let your child know you love them even when they fails or makes bad decisions.

8. Make sure your child’s goals are within reach, at a level appropriate for his ability:

Allow children to have goals that are realistic and that they can achieve, so that there is lesser chance of failure.

9. Offer praise:

Give praise when the child has done something well, or the effort made, and  keep in mind that a little indirect praise, such as stars on a chore chart, can work wonders.                 

10. Stop the name calling:

STOP the name calling and using bad language when speaking to your child. Criticise their actions, not the child! Remember that the child learns from you!

11. Keep promises that you make:

Only make promises to children that you are going to keep, as this is important in building trust between you and the child. Remember that building the child’s self-esteem can change the child and contribute to a positive and better future for the child, making them a productive member of their community.

Written by: Poonam Dwarkaram

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