5 Ways to Raise Self-Assured Children
As parents, we want our children to have a strong sense of self-worth that they can build on as they grow older and confront the decisions and challenges that come with becoming healthy, happy, and content adults. Self-assurance is a necessary element in the recipe for a happy existence. The Montessori Method pays great attention to your child’s growing self-esteem and how it relates to intellectual, social, and emotional capacities.
Here are five strategies to assist your children in developing their own sense of self-assurance:
1) Accept and Value Differences
Your child is one-of-a-kind, which is a lovely thing…even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Our children’s differences can feel so…well…different at times that we parents find it difficult to accept them. Perhaps your child is intrigued by upside-down basket weaving or collecting creepy crawlies; nonetheless, it’s sometimes wise to set aside our preferences and let the child explore her own interests. (And there’s always the chance she’ll give in to her curiosity and go on to something else.) People who are given the freedom to pursue their actual passions are significantly more likely to have a strong sense of self.
“We must recognize that he is more than just our progeny, more than just a creature who is our greatest responsibility. We must study him not as a dependent creature, but as an independent person.…” ~ Maria Montessori
2) Assist in Decision-Making
We want our children, especially those in their teen and early adult years, to make wise (and safe) decisions. So start honing their decision-making abilities right now. Instead than instructing him what to do, engage him in a discussion about why we do what we do. Instead of just saying, “Pick up those toys,” ask your child why it is important to pick up our belongings: so they don’t get damaged, so no one trips and gets hurt, and so on. This allows the child to come to the “correct” conclusion on his own, teaching him how to think rather than what to think.
3) Exhibit Kindness
Teaching your child to help others is one of the best ways to make her feel good about herself. “Parents who do not prioritize their children caring for others can deprive them of the opportunity to develop fundamental relationship skills, and strong relationships are one of our most vital and durable sources of well-being,” according to this Harvard Report. To put it another way, the best way to feel good is to do good. Demonstrate empathy and compassion for others, and teach your child that she is not the only person on the planet. Consider how good you felt the last time you helped someone.
4) Recognize Emotions
Resist the urge to dismiss your child’s emotions, no matter how insignificant they appear to you. All emotions are legitimate. And every emotional experience is genuine. Instead of judging your child’s emotional outbursts, try to help him understand what he’s feeling. Discuss the various emotions without categorizing them as good or bad. Allow your child to openly express his emotions and do not shame him for his emotional reactions. Accepting that all emotions, whether we like them or not, are real is a critical step toward self-acceptance and self-confidence.
“Joy, feeling one’s own value, being appreciated and loved by others, feeling useful and capable of production are all factors of enormous value for the human soul”. ~ Maria Montessori
5) Maintain Your Strength
Recognizing your child’s emotions is not the same as giving in to tantrums. When your child is having a meltdown, she may feel out of control, if not scared, by the intensity of her own emotions. She requires your assistance in regaining her sense of safety, security, and control. You can accomplish this by remaining calm and adhering to your rules and boundaries. Though it may feel like giving in is the kinder thing to do at times, remind yourself that a firm hug is far more reassuring than a shaky grip.
“She must help these tiny beings, who are scampering downhill towards a precipice, to turn about and climb again. She must call to them, wake them up, by her voice and thoughts. A vigorous and firm call is the only true act of kindness towards these little minds.… “~ Maria Montessori