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Building up young children's self-esteem

Middle school-aged children and teenagers are often the center of any self-esteem boosting exercises or teaching methods. While this is certainly necessary, children who benefit from an encouraging environment and experience positive self-esteem from a young age usually carry this sense of self-worth and confidence throughout their lives. Growing up can be difficult at times, which is why you want to extensively prepare each of your students for the road ahead through boosting their self-esteem from an early age.

What is self-esteem and how important is it?
Essentially, self-esteem is how much a person values himself or herself. While this can vary with age, time, and circumstance, people of any age are able to benefit from high levels of self-esteem. Meanwhile, those who possess poor self-esteem may develop negative outlooks in life or feel inadequate when compared to their peers.

While most believe that you build up children's self-esteem through heaping constant praise on them for everything they do, Jim Taylor, author of "Your Kids Are Listening: Nine Messages They Need to Hear from You," says otherwise. At times, you will also have to let your students solve problems, make choices, and take risks. Otherwise, they won't learn how to function independently in the world and without the constant need for affirmation. 

How can I encourage good self-esteem in my students? 
Encouraging self-esteem begins with being a positive role model. At a young age, children often pick up cues for how to act or think from the adults around them. If you are particularly harsh about your own performance or fail to encourage those with poor self-esteem, your students will notice. Being quick to stop bullying behavior will also go a long way in showing your students that negativity is not tolerated or encouraged within your classroom.

You want your classroom to be a safe place for your students to learn and grow. No matter what their home life is like, you can make your classroom a welcoming environment that affirms their goals, beliefs, and dreams. For example, if one of your students takes an interest in drawing, encourage them. However, don't just throw out empty compliments such as, "How pretty!" Instead, remember to be specific with praise, such as,"You draw circles so well here" or "Look how well you color within the lines!" Overall, simply creating a supportive classroom environment will go a long way in boosting your students' self-esteem.

If you are an early childhood education professional, ProSolutions Training offers a wide selection of online child care courses, such as "Build Them Up: Creating a Classroom that Promotes Self-Esteem in Young Children," to help you learn more about your field. Please contact us today if you have any questions!