The idea that a child’s brain is irrevocably shaped in the first three years increasingly drives government policy on adoption and early childhood intervention. But does the science stand up to scrutiny?
“Neuroscience can now explain why early conditions are so crucial,” wrote Graham Allen and Iain Duncan Smith in their 2010 collaboration, Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens. “The more positive stimuli a baby is given, the more brain cells and synapses it will be able to develop.”
Neuroscience is huge in early years policy. This week, in what’s been characterised as the largest shake-up of family law in a generation, the 26-week time limit for adoption proceedings has come into force, much of it justified by the now-or-never urgency of this set of beliefs, that the first three years (or sometimes first 18 months) hardwire a baby’s brain, either give it or deny it the capacity for a full life. This is the engine of what is known as the First Three Years movement, which has transfixed politicians from across the spectrum. Allen and Duncan Smith’s report opened with an illustration of the “normal child’s” large brain and the shrivelled, walnut brain of the neglected child. With conferences such as Two Is Too Late (organised by Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom) and papers such as The 1,001 Critical Days, a set of claims are made that echo and reinforce those bold claims made by Allen: first, that we now have a set of scientific findings about the infant brain that can teach us new things about parenting. Second, that concrete events occur – from the production of synapses to the lighting up of areas of the brain on an MRI scanner – that can be interpreted in a straightforward way upon which all science is agreed. Third, with terms such as “critical periods” and “hardwiring”, the thesis is put forward that brains have a finite time window for learning certain things. Fourth, that we can distil the treatment of infants into a set of behaviours that will determine the networks in their brains, either equipping them to empathise, learn, engage and produce, or irreparably failing to equip them. The connections made are endless: babies who fail to make the right neural connections will do badly at school, lack empathy, succumb to criminality, have mental health problems, and end up in a cycle of deprivation themselves.
Having self confident kids in today’s world is quite the challenge.
Everywhere you look there are images of what “beauty” is considered to be. Sadly most of these images are of body shapes and looks that are just not obtainable by the majority of the population. Trying to curb the effect that these images have on your kids can be tough.
There are some things that each parent can do to try and boost their kids’ self esteem. The following tips can really help you, I know because they have really helped me.
Tip 1 – Be a Good Role Model
Many parents, myself included, fall into the trap of talking bad about ourselves around our kids. This is terrible for your children because it teaches them to be critical of their own appearance. It can also teach them to think that you do not see them as beautiful because if they look like you and you hate how you look how could you love how they look?
Kids who have parents that have a good sense of self and high self esteem are more likely to have high self esteem themselves. Children will learn how to act in different situations by watching how their parents act. So show your kids how confident you are and if you are not confident, learn to fake it for your kids’ sake.
Tip 2 – Be Sure to Use Encouragement with Your Kids
Many kids feel overwhelmed in new situations or with new experiences. You need to be ready to encourage your kids so that they are willing to try new things. Encouraging your child will help your child to have a higher sense of self self and more self esteem.
You should encourage your kids the first few times that they try anything new. This is important because it will help them to get up the nerve that they need to do something for the first time. No matter how hard the task is for them make sure that you stay encouraging.
Pay attention to what you say to your kids when they are completing new tasks. Even sweeping the floor for the first time is going to take some work and might not be done right but over time kids will improve. Make sure that you do not make your kids feel inadequate at any time.
Tip 3 – Have Your Kids Try New Things
It can be natural for a parent to try and protect their kids in a new situation. If your kid has not experienced something before make sure that you encourage them to try it. When you encourage your kids to try new things, you teach them to not be afraid of the unknown. This is a life long lesson that will help your kid when they are older as well.
Each new experience that your kids have helps them to gain more self confidence. So when your kids want to try new sports, attend different classes, or go to places that you might not have been encourage them to try it out. Do remind them with a sport or class that there is a commitment that they will have to stick to.
Tip 4 – Do Not Compare
One of the worst things that parents can do is compare their kids to each other. This not only attacks their self esteem but it also causes them to have resentment towards each other. When you do not compare your kids you teach them that they are each unique and that this is okay.
There are times when a comparison might be appropriate to teach one of your kids how they should be acting in a certain situation. However this is something that should not be done on a regular basis.
Tip 5 – Do Not Overreact
One of the things that you should try not to do is overreact to things. No matter what your child does you should react calmly. Learn to not make things such a big deal. If you overreact then you are attacking your kids’ confidence.
When you overreact to a small mistake it can make your kids feel stupid. It can also make them feel like a failure or like they can not do something the right way. This will result in your child having a low sense of self and a very low self worth.
The next thing that you teach your kids when overreacting is that life is tough and that even the small things in life are hard to handle. This will make them less willing to face the world around them.
Tip 6 – Take Adventures
Parents who are adventurous will teach their kids that they should not fear the unknown. Trying and doing new things teaches your kids to try and do new things. It also teaches them that it is acceptable to do new things that they might not have done before.
This way of thinking is going to encourage kids to try new things in the future.
Tip 7 – Show Your Kids Trust
Trusting your kids is a great way to instantly boost their self esteem and self confidence. One easy way that you can show that you trust them is by giving them a specific chore or responsibility and resisting your urge to control that situation.
Different ways that you can show that you trust your kids include allowing them to purchase something at the store on their own or even asking them to help take care of younger siblings. To pick the right task to help your kids raise their self esteem think of something that they have not previously done, that they have the ability to do well, and that will be safe for them to complete.
Tip 8 – Give Them Time to Grow
When your kids are learning new skills do not rush them. Let them learn at their own pace. Each one of your kids might learn the same skill at a different pace as well.
What comes easily or naturally for one might be difficult for the others.
If there is too much pressure for a kid to perform at a level that they are not ready for then it will bring down their confidence in themselves.
You can help your kids to have more self confidence. Raising kids is hard but these tips can help you to ensure that you are going to be able to give your kids the confidence that they need to conquer the world.
Most parents do not attack their kids’ confidence on purpose either which is part of what makes the whole thing so difficult. Be careful that you are constantly reminded that your kids are just kids and not adults so do not expect too much out of them.
However it is a great idea to let your kids learn how to do things on their own so that they will build their own confidence and have a higher self esteem.
Confidence – In Your Child
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Jessica Ruby When faced with a big challenge where potential failure seems to lurk at every corner, maybe you’ve heard this advice before:
“Be more confident.”
And most likely, this is what you think when you hear it:
“If only it were that simple.”
But what is confidence?
Take the belief that you are valuable, worthwhile, and capable, also known as self-esteem, add in the optimism that comes when you are certain of your abilities, and then empowered by these, act courageously to face a challenge head-on.
This is confidence.
It turns thoughts into action.
So where does confidence even come from?
There are several factors that impact confidence.
One: what you’re born with, such as your genes, which will impact things like the balance of neurochemicals in your brain.
Two: how you’re treated.
This includes the social pressures of your environment.
And three: the part you have control over, the choices you make, the risks you take, and how you think about and respond to challenges and setbacks.
It isn’t possible to completely untangle these three factors, but the personal choices we make certainly play a major role in confidence development.
So, by keeping in mind a few practical tips, we do actually have the power to cultivate our own confidence.
Tip 1: a quick fix.
There are a few tricks that can give you an immediate confidence boost in the short term.
Picture your success when you’re beginning a difficult task, something as simple as listening to music with deep bass; it can promote feelings of power.
You can even strike a powerful pose or give yourself a pep talk.
Tip two: believe in your ability to improve.
If you’re looking for a long-term change, consider the way you think about your abilities and talents.
Do you think they are fixed at birth, or that they can be developed, like a muscle?
These beliefs matter because they can influence how you act when you’re faced with setbacks.
If you have a fixed mindset, meaning that you think your talents are locked in place, you might give up, assuming you’ve discovered something you’re not very good at.
But if you have a growth mindset and think your abilities can improve, a challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Neuroscience supports the growth mindset.
The connections in your brain do get stronger and grow with study and practice.
It also turns out, on average, people who have a growth mindset are more successful, getting better grades, and doing better in the face of challenges.
Tip three: practice failure.
Face it, you’re going to fail sometimes.
Everyone does. J.K. Rowling was rejected by twelve different publishers before one picked up “Harry Potter.
” The Wright Brothers built on history’s failed attempts at flight, including some of their own, before designing a successful airplane.
Studies show that those who fail regularly and keep trying anyway are better equipped to respond to challenges and setbacks in a constructive way.
They learn how to try different strategies, ask others for advice, and perservere.
So, think of a challenge you want to take on, realize it’s not going to be easy, accept that you’ll make mistakes, and be kind to yourself when you do.
Give yourself a pep talk, stand up, and go for it.
The excitement you’ll feel knowing that whatever the result, you’ll have gained greater knowledge and understanding.
Confidence first. How do children find their self-esteem?
Kids build self-confidence from learning new things, so when they have an opportunity to try out a new game or to climb a new climber or to pull on their shoes for the first time, that’s when they master something, and you build up a sense of mastery through competition, and that’s when you built confidence.
It’s trial and succeeding.
The more and more of those you have, the more confident and self-aware and happy you become. Our kids do learn not only from successes but mistakes, or they’re not quite there or failures.
We as parents often don’t want our parents to struggle or feel don’t if they don’t succeed, and yet, that’s how they learn is through that trial and error and through really trying to build up their knowledge and experience base. So parents have a two-fold job in teaching their kids about self-confidence and self-esteem.
They to have provided experiences and be an emotional pillar and someone for no matter success or failure, someone to come home to.
Our kids need that secure base.
They need to know their parents are going to love them, be predictable.
They are the foundation.
From there, they can explore.
The more we can give them those Jen riching experiences with arts, with music, with foods, with physical challenges, the more they get to explore what are their limits and what things they enjoy and want to learn more about. I think we’ve come back to the same theme so often when we talk about improving the lives of your kids.
It’s spending time with them.
Right, and exposing them to new things, it’s not about the status quo.
That’s right. It’s always the balance of learning from your child, let them lead some of the games, some people call it a child’s play, bring them to the experiences, to the museum, musical show, to the library and read to them.
All of those things where you expand their world and also allow self-direction is building self-confidence.
Parents are hesitant to let their kids explore they hate the negative.
They hate when it doesn’t work out.
How can you learn from the negative moments, too?
When we give our kids a chance to struggle a bit, like with my twins that I have at home, the 4-year-old’s getting direction in the morning, when they struggle and put their shoes on on the wrong side.
We say whoops, something went wrong here, what happened?
Oh, the shoes are on the wrong side, so then they can switch them.
Learning from the struggle from mistakes helps to cement, right is right and left is left, and I can do it myself.
I feel right about that.
There is a difference when someone tells you something, and you learn it on your own, and you’ll remember it if you figure out the mistake on your own.
There are three sentences that I want to hit home while we finish up.
First is mastery comes through repetition.
Our kids, we see this in their play.
They play certain games over and over again.
I the mommy, you’re the daddy, we’re having a baby.
We’re cooking in the kitchen.
That’s mastery through repetition, doing things over and over again to feel a sense of control over it.
Your next is self-confidence comes through success.
Like our kids when we were talking earlier have those challenges that are just challenging enough and succeed at those, that’s self-confidence.
Your last tip is self-esteem comes from self-respect, and that is so important to develop.
That’s right. Self-respect is learning to control yours, learning your limits and learning to challenge yourself.
That self-esteem disgust of feeling good about yourself.
Again, that comes back to that secure base, that foundation of this training.
Developing a Healthy Self–Esteem inYourChild
Children with healthy self–esteems try hard in school, get along well with others, hold a “can–do” attitude about life, and feel positive about their environment.
They can accept ups and downs graciously.
The opposite is true of children who suffer from low self–esteems.
These children compare themselves to others and never feel they have done well enough.
They are frustrated easily and fear risk and challenge.
Children with low self–esteems can easily fall prey to peer pressure, eating disorders, and other dangers.
You can help a child who has a low self–esteem by examining the reasons behind it.
You can also encourage the continuity of those children who have healthy self–esteems.
By using a positive, can–do attitude inyour home, you will pass that attitude on to yourchild.
Try the following ideas to encourage a positive self–esteem:
EXAMINE YOURSELF AND YOUR ATTITUDE
Children learn by example. If you hold a high self–esteem and think positively, odds are yourchild will to.
If you suffer from a low self–esteem you will need to examine your current patterns of thinking and work on changing them.
SEEK OUT THE POSITIVE
This does not mean you need to be a Pollyanna but you should search for the positive side of things.
When yourchild comes to you with a problem, ask questions and pursue the positive side.
The same goes for how you act inyour own endeavors. When things go wrong look for the up side.
RELATE TO YOURCHILD
Parent’s often will sit and tell the humorous stories of their past.
There is probably much more yourchild would like to hear.
When yourchild comes to you with a dilemma, share your own experience. Even though you may be years apart yourchild may find relief that you have had times of self–doubt and concern.
WHY ASK WHY?
If yourchild uses statements like “I can’t” or other statements that show he is frustrated or giving up, ask “Why can’t you?”
Asking these questions may frustrate yourchild and you may hear answers like “I don’t know… I just can’t!”
Try bringing the subject up later when the intensity of the situation has lessened. Then ask “Earlier today you said you could not solve that puzzle, why don’t you think you could solve it?”
By exploring reasons together you may find the source of a low self–esteem.
Another way to increase self–esteem is to emphasize a child‘s strong points.
If he is good in art but doesn’t do well in sports––work with him and praise him on his art.
By developing a feeling of confidencein one area, that confidence may spread into another area of a child‘s life.
PRAISE AND ENCOURAGEMENT
Praise and encouragement are essential vitamins for a child.
Encourage all children and praise them for situations where they put their “all” into it, no matter what the result.
Filling your vocabulary with positive statements and providing a positive environment are big steps in helping yourchild build a healthy self–esteem.