Toddlers and preschoolers see their grown-ups and older siblings doing everything so easily. It can be frustrating and discouraging for these little ones to try and try, and not be able to do what they see everyone else doing.
Knowing that self-esteem can come from being competent at something, there are several ways we can empower our toddlers and preschoolers and give them opportunities to feel capable and competent:
Let them do things for themselves.
Sometimes it’s hard for a parent not to step in and quickly do something a child is trying to do. Especially if the child is taking a long time to, say, figure out how all of the chalk pieces will go back into the box. (Sometimes I want to pull my hair out when I’m watching my own four-year-old meticulously try to fix the Velcro fastener on the back of his Continue Reading »
Toddlers and preschoolers see their grown-ups and older siblings doing everything so easily. It can be frustrating and sad to try and try, and not be able to do what these little ones see everyone else doing. Knowing that self-esteem comes from being competent at something, there are several ways we can empower our preschoolers and give them opportunities to feel capable and competent. Ask for their help: “Can you help mommy put this lid on? I can’t seem to get it on.” Or “Would you help me decide about whether we should eat outside or at the dining table?”
We can also do what Pediatrician Harvey Karp calls “playing the boob.” This is when we are purposefully incompetent so that they can jump in and help: “I don’t know where this puzzle piece goes. Hmmm.” Or we let them observe us struggling with something that they can easily accomplish, like trying to stack blocks. Of course, we can also allow them to do things that they can do themselves, instead of doing everything for them. Not only can they handle some responsibility, but it’s great for them. Try to elicit their help or opinion at least once a day so that they feel like they’re a contributing member of the family, and that their abilities are important. This will reduce their frustration while also building both competence and confidence.