Helping Children Feel Good About Themselves
Feeling good means feeling that you are a valuable, lovable, capable person who is important just because you are you. When children feel good about who they are, they are able to value, love, and respect other people. A child who has internalized this feeling will be able to function independently, participate fully in cooperative and caring relationships, express opinions and listen to others, meet new challenges with a feeling of confidence.
As teachers and caregivers, our responsibility is to help children feel good about themselves. The following is a list of things that teachers and caregivers can do on a daily basis to help children feel good about themselves.
Acknowledge every child’s presence with a smile, eye contact, a touch, a wave.
At the beginning of the day, and throughout the day, it is important to acknowledge each child through eye contact, a warm welcoming smile and encouragement.
Use the child’s name when talking to the child.
Using a child’s name helps the child feel more connected to the caregiver or teacher as an individual. It helps the child feel seen, and usually makes children more likely to respond positively to whatever is being communicated.
Listen to children.
Their pain, hunger, and feelings are as real as those of adults. Caregivers need to acknowledge children's feelings and help children name their feelings. Children that have the vocabulary to name their feelings are less likely to resort to crying or becoming emotional.
Active movement is a normal, necessary part of child development.
Children need to move in order to grow and develop. Caregivers should plan indoor and outdoor movement time for children. Required sitting time should be kept to a minimum. A good rule of thumb is to allow 3-4 minutes of sitting per year of age of the child. A four year old would only be expected to sit for a maximum of 12 to 16 minutes.
Let children do child-like things.
Play, explore, experiment, pretend outrageous things, and imitate routine things, lay around aimlessly, stare at an ant, chase butterflies, and dig holes to China. Children’s play has value and caregivers should encourage children's play.
Allow children to select activities.
Children have individual needs and interests. Encouraging children to select activities they are excited about helps develop in them a belief that their ideas are important and gives them a sense of success for their abilities.
These are just a few suggestions to help teachers and caregivers implement a Feeling Good Program.