Saturday, September 17, 2016

Positive Self-Esteem

Nancy Curry a psychologist and professor of child development at University of Pittsburgh and Carl Johnson who is a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh who has a doctorate in child psychology have broken down how to develop a positive self-esteem and described the role of adults in the process. They discuss the development of positive self-esteem through four constructs: love and acceptance, power and control, moral value and competence. These constructs work to help the development of a child's positive self-esteem as they develop within the family, and a child's world outside their home. Children who feel love and acceptance, power and control and have a sense of moral value and competence will learn, develop and progress toward their full potential both at home and in life.

What children need is unconditional support in their efforts to learn, grow and develop. What we say should be offered with genuine affection to who children are, not what they accomplish. Accomplishments have their own rewards built through intrinsic motivation. Let children feel joy in their accomplishments, solving problems and mastering activities without the need for adult approval. Adults should ask children how they feel about what they've accomplished, whether they could improve on their efforts and results and how they handled their frustrations and disappointments in achieving an activity. For example, if a child fails a test, a parent can ask how they feel about that. They can ask if there's something they can do differently next time in order to improve the result. They can ask how they can achieve the task of passing the test. Don't make them feel bad for failing the test or not putting the effort into passing the test, just help them realize they have to put effort into things in order for them to have the result they want. Help them see they may have made a bad (not wrong) choice and to make a different one (not right one) next time.

There are a variety of ways that help children achieve a sense of power and control. Providing children with lots of opportunities to make a variety of choices is one way to do that. Parents need to be careful to make sure the choices given to children are acceptable. For example, do you want to have yogurt or goldfish for snack? Both of these are acceptable, healthy snacks but the child can choose which one they want. Another way to give children the opportunity to have a sense of power and control  are to provide  meaningful projects and experiences for a child to do. For example, doing the reading summer program at the local public library. Parents can provide opportunities for children to explore, take risks and problem solve. These activities could include learning how to ride a bike or play the piano. When parents provide these types of activities it shows their belief in their child's abilities and it increases their self-esteem.

Moral value is the idea that children are treated fairly and each child is fundamentally a good person. A child with high moral values cares for others and learns reciprocal behavior. Parents can enhance a child's sense of moral values by making sure interactions between children and adults are characterized by mutual respect, cooperation, empathy, and fairness.

To develop competence parents should be focused on building trust and autonomy. Parents should help children develop a natural curiosity to learn, grow, achieve and master skills including social and behavioral skills. Parents should help children find constructive ways to deal with frustration, disappointment and failure.  When punishing a child make sure you criticize or punish the child's behavior and the child knows it's the behavior that is unacceptable, not the child. Parents need to take an all or nothing approach with criticisms and avoid comparing children to other's in behavior or skills. Each child needs to fill they're contributing to the group-family, community, friends etc.

When a parent develops these four constructs into their parenting style and  uses them to develop their child's self-esteem, their child can develop a positive self-esteem about themselves.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Ways to stop negative cycles

Dan Gartrell is the director of the child development training program at Bemidji State University in Minnesota. He gives five ways to stop negative cycles. The first one is to provide children opportunities to do positive activities  they do well such as cleaning up or building with blocks. The second way is to give positive feedback for these activities, "Thank you for cleaning the cat litter box when I asked the first time." The third way is to observe negative interactions with friends. For example, if every time the child has a friend over there's a fight over a particular toy, take notice of that. Then find ways to reduce the interactions a much as possible such as putting the toy in a safe place while the friend is over. The fourth way is to carefully select activities children do without failing. For example, if you know a child is good at ballet, give them ballet lessons. The fifth way is to break difficult tasks into small manageable ones that guide the child to know how to accomplish each task. For example, if a child has a history project due teach them to do the research first, then put it in order they want to write it in, and then write the actual paper.

To avoid negative expectations and reinforcing negative behaviors, parents should observe children carefully, deliberately, and sensitively and attend to children who exhibit the kinds of prosocial behaviors the parents want. One way to do this it to make sure each child receives affirmations each child deserves. Affirmations are positive messages about an individual who has unique needs. Affirmations encourage children to be who they are and are expressed by people being interested in each individual and showing appreciation for each individual. This is the small things like saying thank you when a child does what's asked. This is telling the child you're proud of the grade they got on an assignment or test. This is showing respect to a child.

This is one of my pet peeves when it comes to parenting. Respect isn't a one way street that leads from children to adults. It's a two way street that leads from the parents to the child and back to the parent. A person can't expect, much less demand, a child show an adult respect if the adult doesn't show them respect. A parent can't treat their child one way and expect and demand they treat them a different way. It doesn't work that way. Treat your children the way you want them to treat you. Behave the way you want the child to behave. Treat others the way you want your children to treat others. Don't expect of them what you don't and won't expect of yourself. Send and teach positive affirmations through word and deed to your children.

A child who is used to getting only negative attention will reject attempts at affirmation. Children who are used to getting only negative attention are experts at attracting negative attention. To change the behavior of a child whose self-concept is negative and only receives negative affirmations from the environment, adults need to focus their self- image on any and all sides of positive behavior. For example, if you see a child clean up a siblings part of the room, tell them how nice it was that they did that and how you as the parent appreciate that they did it. Little by little the children's and adults lives will come to change as the child's view of themselves changes. Parents can change a child's self-image by changing the child's behavior and the child begins to learn they can engage in prosocial behavior which will cause positive affirmations to occur. Adults don't let children engage in destructive behavior because this reinforces a child's negative self-image, while providing constant attention to negative behavior. When children begin to receive attention and positive messages from their environment and those in it, the child will slowly begin to trust again and probably first with a significant adult because adults are usually more forgiving than peers.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Cyclic Patterns

Cyclic patterns become so en-grained into humans they appear to be automatic. Children can't break negative cycles by themselves. When children enter new social groups they assume roles and behaviors they had in other social groups. For example, if a child was a peacemaker in a former group, they'll be the peacemaker in a new group.

Children who feel good about themselves, assess their abilities and are more outgoing, assertive and consider themselves to be competent and likable. They expect to do well and believe they control  their own fate socially and with difficult tasks. Children who have positive  self-esteem, high self-efficacy and high social competence have proved these are directly related to each other. When parents and others acknowledge  and respect their children's feelings, a close relationship develops between them. This is because their relationship is based on a mutual respect and trust.

One of the challenges for parents and others of young children is that they don't come to accept a child's negative cycles and reputations fully becoming protective and not letting children resolve conflicts by themselves. The purpose of teaching social competence is for children to practice social competence. Parents should be aware of providing less assistance and support when children are developing skills and dispositions.

Dan Gartrell who is the director of the child development training program at Bemidji State University in Minnesota, calls negative behavior, mistaken behaviors and advises parents to view these opportunities to help children learn about appropriate behavior. A parent helps a child learn appropriate behavior by teaching them appropriate behavior and modeling it. Most of parenting is about teaching a child. Children come into the world not knowing how to do anything except the survival skills. They then have to learn everything else from how to roll over, to how to behave appropriately, to the importance of being kind and how to be kind. It's the responsibility of the parent to teach their children all of it. If a parent doesn't like the way the child is treating them as the parent, a sibling, friend etc., check what you're modeling. Are you teaching through word and deed what you expect the child to do? Do you need to change something you're doing so the child's behavior will change? Cyclic patterns can begin with what a parent does, says and therefore models.