Encouraging self-belief this new year

Career & Education

Encouraging self-belief this new year

Karla Hylton

Sunday, January 05, 2020

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The new year, pregnant with its promises, hopes, dreams, and aspirations, is the perfect time to encourage our children to believe in themselves and what they are capable of achieving.

One sure-fire way of achieving this is to model perseverance by sticking to your new year's goals and resolutions. It shows your children that you believe in yourself and will teach them to do the same with their own visions and aspirations.

Believing in oneself is the bridge to successful learning, for it determines our feelings, thoughts, behaviour and motivation. Strong self-esteem is also essential to your growing child becoming a mentally strong and well-adjusted adult; an armour against the trials of life, if you will.

Note that a healthy self-worth does not translate to arrogance or narcissism. Rather, it means that you have a balanced view of yourself; a good opinion of your abilities while also recognising your flaws. It is buoyed by positive self-talk, optimism, motivation, hope. Think about it: When you believe that you can do something, you usually do accomplish it.

A healthy self-worth, then, can be likened to a roadmap to acquiring one's set goal. It must include alternate routes to arrive at the same destination, bearing in mind that there may be obstacles in the way.

Tips to Nurture Self-belief

1. Give three compliments each day — Start a routine where your child gives at least three compliments about himself each day. You can also do the same. These compliments may include tasks accomplished or just simple things they admire about themselves.

2. Challenge negative thoughts — Self-talk can be either be destructive or constructive. Choose the latter. Do not brush off your child's negative comments. Turn them around. Instead of saying, “I am stupid because I got my maths homework wrong”, say: “If I practice, I know I will be a maths pro”. If negative self-talk is persistent, it could be evidence of low self-esteem, a learning disability, anxiety or depression.

3. Appropriate praise — When praising children, be sure to be descriptive, sincere and honest. Do not just say “good job”. Instead, describe in detail what you admired about their actions in regard to a specific behaviour. Children crave their parents' attention. Of course, while praise is helpful, it is a double-edged sword, so be sure not to overdo it.

4. Set realistic goals — Ensure that your children's goals are reasonable, measurable and achievable within time limits. Goals that are too high lead to feelings of helplessness and incompetence. On the contrary, if they are too low, they lead to lack of effort and complacency.

5. Eliminate perfectionism — Be sure to not set impossibly high standards for your kids and encourage them to not have these perfection ideals for themselves. Perfectionists can be hard on themselves and it can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety and/or depression.

6. Model positive self-talk — You are your child's example, so be careful of the words you use to describe your own self. Do not be self-critical. Model the right attitude.

7. Celebrate learning — Be excited about learning. Ask your child about their day and what they learnt at school. Become thrilled when they move on to a new topic. Give them the opportunity to teach you what they have learnt.

8. Accept mistakes as learning opportunities — Do not shame your child because of failures. Your child needs to know that it's ok to fail and there are solutions to mistakes. We all fail at something. Share your own personal stories where you failed, persevered, then succeeded. Cut the criticism and support diligence and grit. Your child need always to be reassured that your love is unconditional.

Dr Karla Hylton, UWI lecturer in biology, is the author of Yes! You Can Help Your Child Achieve Academic Success and Complete Chemistry for Caribbean High Schools . Reach her at (876) 564-1347, biochemtutor100@gmail.com or khylton.com .

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