Thursday, 8 May 2014

Boosting your child self-esteem

I noticed that Fahri tends to give up or "surrender" (as what Malaysians would say) whenever he is unable to solve something - like mending his broken toys or assembling his LEGO. He would go "Alaaaaaa Fahri tak boleh buat ni!" or anything that he uttered would be of negative sentiment - which needs to be curbed as soon as possible.  (I think he inherits this habit from me (lol).

But this is not a laughing matter, since he is in the stage of developing his skills and self-esteem. I once thought that it is OK for him to behave in such manner and it is part of learning process but it is becoming more alarming since as he would say that he is not able to do mend his toys before he even try to mend it. So it triggered me to do something about it before its too late. My husband and I always tell Fahri "U can make it Fahri, dont say u cannot do before u even try it". Then he would try again and again until he gets what he wants to achieve.

What I usually do when he managed to build something out of his Lego - a spaceship, or even a petrol station (to his imagination), I would proudly praise him "Cantiknya!" or "Pandai lah Fahri buat ni!". But I read somewhere that praising is not enough - your child would feel that whatever they do, they would think that there will be somebody who will praise them and thats it, they dont have to do more since they are already being praised for their achievements. What parents should do is to praise, and then challenge the child to do something more, e.g "Wow u can build a ship! Great job! Now why don't u try build a spaceship?" This would subconsciously challenge them that they can do something better and they will try to prove to the parents that they CAN come up with something way better than what the parents expect. I have tried this method with Fahri few times but I have yet to see any development.

What I read from this article is that, parents should also praise the kids for working hard, not just being smart. Scientists gave a set of puzzles to a group of student, one group was praised for being smart while the other was praised for working hard. Then those kids were given another set of puzzles which were harder to resolve, and it was proven that the "hard workers" solved more puzzles and performed better. Perhaps I should try praising Fahri's effort instead of just praising him for his good work and see if it works.

Some kids don't have this problem, but some are already developing the needs for praise and they yearn for it. While it is not wrong to regularly praise them, parents should also know how to talk to them so they will thrive (taken from this blog - something really worth sharing)

What to Avoid: “Good job!”
What to say instead: Be specific: “I like the detail on that” or “I can tell you took your time on your handwriting.”
Why: The purpose of encouragement should be to promote positive behaviors, and the bland “good job” doesn’t provide useful information.

What to avoid: “Good girl!” or “Good boy!”
What to say instead: “You look like you feel pretty happy with yourself!”
Why: This throwaway tells your child he is only “good” when other people say he is, says Dr. Nelsen. Plus, it ties his overall worth to how he behaves on a single occasion.

What to avoid: “You are so incredible!”
What to say instead: “You must be proud of yourself!” or for the big deals: “I’m proud of you.” Just don’t jump up and down while saying it!
Why: Over-the-top reactions, even to MVP performances, do more harm than good. Kids think “If Mom gets this excited when I succeed, how will she feel when I don’t?”

What to avoid: “Did your team win?”
What to say instead: “Did you have fun?” or “Tell me all about the game.”
Why: Asking the score implies winning is all that matters. But sports are also about exercise, camaraderie, and skill-building. And the score often doesn’t reflect the players’ effort.

What to avoid: “You’re so smart!”
What to say instead: “I could tell you wouldn’t give up” or “It seems like you worked so hard!” Hone in on what she did to make it happen.
Why: By calling out a natural gift, something in theory she’d have no control over, you subtly imply that her achievement was simply luck.

It seems and sounds simple, but it is more of a mat salleh culture. We Asians tend to be more straightforward, or sometimes clueless and expressionless (yup, I admit I fall in that group!) So all the best mommies and daddies! We CAN make a difference :)

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