Earned Self Esteem
When kids are given praise for everything, whether earned or not, kids don't end up with a good self esteem. They instead end up being self centered and spoiled, and they will be in for a huge letdown when they are out in the real world.
But, you can build a good self esteem in kids with praise they deserve. Praise them every time they do something right - any little thing. If you think they seldom do anything right, you are not looking with the right attitude. But, if they have trouble succeeding, place them in situations where they can succeed. Then be ready to praise.
The more you praise them when they do succeed, the more things they will try, and the harder they will try to succeed. It is a snowball effect. Kids will prefer praise to the opposite, they will prefer succeeding to failing, and they will even prefer succeeding to not trying.
Once they master a teeny chore, give them something a little harder, then work your way up. If you give them hard things to start with, you may destine them to fail. Remember when you learned math? You weren't asked to multiply 3 times 5 on the first day, you were asked to add 1 plus 1.
The Terrible Two's
The "terrible two's" is a stage in a child's life when they seem to only want to say no. Barking orders causes anger or frustration. Pleading gives the child the power and challenges them to refuse. The best way is to give choices.
Not so good: "Time to go to bed." "No!"
Much better: "Do you want Daddy to carry you to bed, or do you want to walk all by yourself?" This starts your toddler's brain working toward one of the choices. Hmm. It is always fun to be carried by Daddy. But, I want to show my independence today and do it all by myself. Either choice gets them to bed without an argument, and either choice gives the toddler a feeling of being respected and not being treated like such a baby.
Not so good: "It's time to get you dressed." "No!"
Much better: "You decide. Would you like to wear your yellow dress or your pink dress today?" Or, you can say that the child may choose any of the clothes in the basket (which you have filled with clothes suitable for the day). Being allowed to make a choice, have their say, and express their preferences is a better way to declare their independence. This usually ends with making everyone happy and without tantrums or "no" answers.
Not so good: "Pick up your toys." "No!"
Much better: "Do you want to pick blue or red?" "Red!" "Okay, I will put a blue toy in the basket. See if you can find a red toy." Children will usually enjoy putting a red toy into the basket without being asked since you just showed the example and it makes them feel more grown-up to show that they do know what red is. Make it fun, teach them colors as you do it, and even sing a clean-up song together.
No one, not even little ones, likes anger or frustration. And it is unfair to them to burden them by putting them in a position of power. They are happiest with boundaries and guidance. And when they test you with refusals or tantrums, it is best if you remain the calm adult and not become like an angry child.
More articles on child rearing can be found on our blog.
Take your kids with you on errands or out for the day - one at a time. When they have your full attention, you learn so much about them. And it really strengthens your bond. If you have one car but two kids, one parent takes a child out and the other parent gets special time at home with the other child.
... But Not Too Close
Some children are a little shy, and most don't want to feel like they are being grilled with questions. Being face to face gets in the way. Doing things together that do not require being face to face allows them to open up. Coloring on the floor next to a child requires no speaking, but most kids will just start telling you things that happened in their day or their week. If you get all the tangles out of your hair and hand a child a brush, you'll be amazed at how much even the quietest one will tell you about their life when your back is turned and they start brushing.
Don't wait until your kids are almost ready to leave home to teach them how to take care of themselves. They're not ever too young to learn how to pick up after themselves - if they can walk to the toy box, they can carry a toy to it and drop it in. Let them do all the things they are physically able to do to help out around the house. But, don't forget to show them just how things should be done or you'll be in for some rude surprises.
Help kids learn to cook. They can start by watching and handing you ingredients. Later, they can add some ingredients and stir things that are not on the stove. Teach them the safe way to use a toaster. (Keep plastic tongs
or bamboo toast tongs on hand in case the toast get stuck so no one gets electrocuted.)
Sign Language for Special Needs Children
When a family member is deaf, babies in the household will start signing before they are able to speak. Sign language has been successful in letting a child with autism express himself and often also encourages verbal communication. And signing has been shown to provide more information about the meanings of words, events, concepts and relations. It is even a great way to let a child with Down Syndrome communicate easier and earlier. Help a child make a connection with Signing Time.
"Clean your room" means something totally different to your kids than it does to you. If you really want to have everything picked up off the floor instead of kicked under dressers, specifying that in the beginning will make things much simpler all around.