If you know preschool children, you know that they naturally love to explore and discover. That’s one of the things that make them so lovable.
Everything with them is new and exciting.
But they can quickly lose this sense of adventure when they encounter challenging, unfamiliar situations unless they have grownups around them who coach them through and show them they can do it!
It’s a scary thought, but the way we communicate with our children in these sensitive moments could be the key to their sense of self-confidence for the rest of their lives.
If we are equipped with what to say in sensitive, childhood learning moments as well as everyday moments, we are preparing to launch brave, happy, confident people into the world.
In the first 5 years, many vital milestones occur in children.
Psychologist Erik Erikson developed a theory about stages of human psychosocial development. The first three stages he explains are from infancy through the preschool years.
The first stage is Trust vs. Mistrust
Caretakers, by their treatment of a child under the age of two, teach the child that people are trustworthy or not. This gives the child a basic sense of security or insecurity.
The second stage is Autonomy vs. Shame
This stage takes place up to about four years of age. A child raised well in the first years will develop a sense of assurance, control and independence.
The third stage is Initiative vs. Guilt
In this stage, through the preschool years, the child learns to engage in imaginative play, cooperate with others, lead and follow well.
When fear and shame are predominant emotions, the child will instead be restricted in play skills, may hang back and not participate with others and continue earlier levels of extreme dependence on the parent.
If you’d like to read more about the psychosocial stages, you can buy his book, The Lifecycle Completed, by clicking this link. (By the way, as an Amazon associate, I earn with purchases at no extra charge to you).
If the adults in a child’s life can foster security, self-assurance and courage in children, we will be setting them up for future success.
10 Things to Say to Preschoolers
to Give Them Courage and Confidence
Here are 10 major areas where we can affirm, encourage and instruct our children.
If we use phrases like these in these early years, preschoolers will develop the courage and confidence to move out into their new adventures knowing they have what it takes!
1 – Security – let them know they are safe – it’s the foundation for their growing independence.
Say this: You are safe. Mommy and Daddy love you and will always take good care of you.
2 – Confidence – remind them of past successes and assure them they can succeed in new circumstances.
Say this: You can do this! Remember when you went to the play group and did great?
3 – Individuality – let them know they are unique and specially gifted.
Say this: You are such a friendly kid! You’ll be good at making new friends.
4 – Support – let them know you will always be rooting for them.
Sat this: No matter what, I will always be there when you need me.
5 – Emotions – let them know that their feelings are normal and then help them work through them.
Say this: I can see you’re feeling angry right now. I can understand why. It’s hard for us when we don’t get what we want.
6 – Choices – Even when they can’t have what they want, making a choice gives them a sense of freedom and power.
Say this: We’re not having candy right now. You may have cheese or apple slices. Which would you prefer?
7 – Responsibility – let them know that their choices have consequences.
Say this: You can get your blocks out, but you will need to put them away when you’re done.
8 – Creativity – let them know their special, unique creativity is noticed and appreciated. Pick out one or two particular aspects of their work and praise them for it.
Say this: I love the combination of colors you chose for the feathers in your painting.
9 – Character – let them know when you see their positive character traits. We often only acknowledge misbehavior. Catch your kids acting right and point it out.
Say this: You were very kind to share your favorite toy.
10 – Worthiness – let them know that what they do and who they are is worth your time and attention, even if you can’t stop everything and pay attention right now.
Say this: I really want to see your tower of blocks. It’s important to me. I’ll come take a look at it in (5) minutes.
Here are some books and add-ons that help preschool children with a positive self-concept. Click on the title for more information.
Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt. Helps kids face new and sometimes scary situations with confidence.
Whatif Monster Plush Toy Companion to the book, this stuffed Whatif Monster is for kids to tell their fears and worries to.
Cordelia by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt. Lets kids know they are capable.
Cordelia Doll Companion to Cordelia story to remind kids that they can do it like Cordelia did!
I Love You Hoo by Rachel Bright. Sweet read aloud expressing love for children just the way they are.
You Are A Star by Ariella Abolaffio. Encouraging read aloud to instill a positive sense of self.
Here are some books to help grownups understand and communicate better with their kids. Click on the title for more information.
The Lifecycle Completed, by Erik H. Erikson. Understanding child development is important to parenting.
How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7, by Joanna Faber and Julie King. Teaches parents positive communication skills that will get results.
Preschoolers Are Ready and Willing Adventurers and We Can Help
Preschool children love to venture out and try new things, but they need grownups around them that give them a strong foundation and cheer them on as they go.
The messages we send them, verbal or otherwise, become the foundation upon which they build their sense of self for a lifetime.
Children are subconsciously asking these questions all the time:
Am I safe?
Am I lovable?
Am I important?
Am I enough?
Let’s do everything in our power to make sure that they can answer those questions with a big “Yes”!
What are some of the ways that you instill confidence in your kids? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
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