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Development of self-esteem in early childhood may sound improbable to us. However, the reality is that as soon as your toddler begins to develop a sense of understanding of the world, self esteem and self identity comes as a part of the growing up.
‘I want to go to school on my own Mommy’, ‘I can eat my food like a grown up’… when you begin to hear such sentences from your toddler, be rest assured that the stage of throwing tantrums, shrieking, screaming and fussing is over. This feeling of self-identity and self-esteem begins right from the childhood. As parents, it is our prerogative to nurture this spirit to help children develop strong personalities.
Developing Sense of Identity in Toddlers
1. The Development
An acute sense of identity begins to develop as early as year one when the child starts discovering his hands, his favorite toy, when he is being called out and such things. This automatically gets developed through the daily activities of the toddler. By the age of 3-4, identity and self-esteem for toddlers become extremely important as he can relate to other people and feels that he belongs to his parents and wouldn’t want to make them upset. Simultaneously, he also starts thinking about his own psychological self like he is smart/strong/funny and can appreciate the physical differences like the colour of the skin and height.
2. Gaining Perspective
As your child blooms into a toddler who understands a conversation and can carry out instructions, his intelligence and perspectives also develop. Here are some of the behaviours that’ll show how your toddler’s developing self-respect:
- Empathy: Your child begins to understand that everyone is a different individual and can have his own likes and dislikes. This helps him to demonstrate empathy, predict reactions of others and subsequently forge friendships.
- Predictability: Your toddler understands that he is expected to behave in a certain way and he can predict your reaction in case he doesn’t comply. You are the mirror in which he looks at himself.
- Comparisons: Children start making comparisons between themselves and others in all aspects, both physically and ability wise. You have to teach him to have confidence in himself and never try to be like the herd.
- Imitation: Developing themselves on their role model begins as early as 3-4 years of age. Be extremely careful of your behaviour as you carry the responsibility of another person’s behaviour on your shoulders.
3. Helping Children to Build Self-Esteem
Here is what you should do:
- Toddlers at this stage will ask a lot of ‘Whys’ in the day. Ensure that you answer all his questions with proper reasoning and provide as many facts as possible.
- Teach them to forget incidences of the past and always look towards a future full of learning.
- Encourage your child to take his own decisions and praise when he does well.
- Communicate effectively in case of inappropriate behaviour explaining why you think so.
Traits like self-awareness and self-esteem are important in all stages of life. If you can help your child inculcate them in the correct manner at the correct time, then they will surely grow up to be self-assured and confident individuals.