Every time my kid stumbles and falls on the road while running or cycling, he will pause and look at me before bursting into tears. An affirmation from my end, by way of soothing and pacifying him, is what he looks forward to with every fall, with every set back. It’s this which gives him a sense of security, a sense of belonging, an assurance that everything is fine and he can rise again!
This perception is what will make him understand that there is always someone like mommy to fall back on. Crisis moments will be dealt more bravely when this sense of security prevails. It’s only a strong sense of security in a child’s initial years that works as a passport for trying and venturing newer, unknown territories, without any apprehension. It’s the key to stable mental health, overall well-being and future success!
Having talked about “success”, it’s something which we can associate even as adults. At every stage, how we feel about ourselves directly impacts the way we think. Hence, a sense of security, an assurance always makes us believe that we are doing well and we can do well. This sense of security makes our complicated lives seemingly easier, better and sometimes worth living! After all, self-image is what will help a child to proceed successfully in life and if this image is a positive and a confident one, it is bound to make a child do volumes for his success.
Hence, in short, it’s imperative as parents to make our kids feel secure and happy about the choices they make. Maybe a few basics will prove to be beneficial if followed on a long term note.
- Stay involved, always: – Staying informed and updated about everything in your child’s life will give him a sense of value, a sense of being important in your life. This should not be confused with interference though. It’s about staying abreast with your kid’s routine, while letting him do his thing. This fuels a feeling of security. For very small children till the pre-teen years, I guess parents can even sometimes be a part of their play to strengthen that feeling of security.
- Spend quality time: – Instead of money and expensive toys, there is more to spend on children. It’s your time! There is no other investment better than investing time in our children. It’s not quantity, but quality time that adds to a child’s mental wellbeing and to his sense of security. Talking, listening and playing are ways to help your child gain a sense of belonging. So indulge in those play dates, castle building, playing or just walking in the park!
- Appreciate choices: – No matter how much you believe that you know the best, sometimes relying on children for their choices is required. This allows them to weigh their choices seriously and independently. This helps as they learn to take responsibility for their mistakes, improvise through experiences and learn to take and appreciate guidance in the hour of need.
- Provide options: – A safe, yet effective way to make the children feel in-charge of situation is to offer them choices. Right from food to clothing to outing options my son loves it when he gets to choose. While he feels authoritative with the choices he makes in these areas, I as a parent feel safe with the defined boundaries. It’s a definite win-win situation and I’m able to keep power struggles at bay!
- Set your child to succeed: – Understanding your child’s interests and helping him hone them will go a long way in building their self-confidence. However, encouraging should not become pushing or bogging a child. Learning to appreciate a child’s ability so as to allow him to enjoy and learn at his own pace should be the prerogative.
- Never compare: – The habit of comparing kids with their siblings, friends and sometimes even parents brings in more damage. Lowered self-esteem, low self-confidence, inferiority complex and negativity in relationships are just a few of the traits to start off with. Families forget that in the quest of bringing in improvement, they spoil the entire aura of a child by presenting and comparing him with someone, who doesn’t even match his skills set! Every child is unique, so appreciating will allow a child to remain accepting towards himself and build a sense of self.
- Monitor school or people influences: – This is relevant in pre-school, elementary, pre-teen to teen years, when the children are going through the self-image building. This will protect them from the unwanted or rather the wrong influences. This may need you stay vigilant up until the time the child has a strong self-image, to stay unaffected by these factors.
- Assign responsibilities to children: – Children develop a lot of self-confidence and also are able to internalize values through the help they have to offer inside and outside the home. It’s imperative that we assign them jobs at home that are age-appropriate right from the start. Any acknowledgement and appreciation for the same, allows them to feel good and useful in life. Household duties makes them feel valuable and they are capable of channelling their energy towards desirable behavior.
- Reflect a positive image: – Much of a child’s self-esteem stems from you as an individual. A child will derive strength and confidence from what he feels people perceive of him, especially the parents. Hence, praising a child’s efforts and talents go a long way in creating a positive image in a child’s mind. This is how a child learns to think well of himself through your eyes.
- Improve your own self-confidence: – Self-esteem and a sense of security is often acquired by a child and not inherited, so what he sees in you is likely to be imbibed by him. Hence, work on your own positive image or happiness quo to be able to reflect the same to your children. A joyful atmosphere in home is what stems a sense of happiness and a sense of security.
Parenting is usually therapeutic, provided you do it consciously. You often heal yourself, while raising children, filling your own personality loopholes in process. Hence, any effort that you make towards building secured children will have a long term impact on your own emotional well-being.