Parents and caregivers can help their young children develop a quality that can support them all their lives: self-esteem. Self-esteem results from a sense of competence, which follows from making efforts that lead to a satisfying level of accomplishment, acknowledged by oneself and by other significant people. Self-esteem comes from finding out how to function effectively in one's environment and being encouraged in that endeavor by parents and other caregivers.
Playtime can help young children develop a sense of competence if it provides opportunities to explore within safe boundaries and offers play materials that fit children's abilities. Children also need time to pursue tasks of their own choosing until they have completed them to their own satisfaction.
The chosen activity may be as simple as throwing pebbles into a pond or as complex as building a block structure with a friend. What is important is that the child is making his mark on the world, making it different than it was before, and gaining a sense of his ability to effectively carry out an idea, solve a problem or get a job done. Many, many such successful experiences through the years add up to the confidence we call self-esteem.
Parents and caregivers can provide opportunities for success by:
Source: Suzanne West, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, New York State College of Human Ecology, Cornell University. Parent Pages was developed by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. HD 24
Last updated December 14, 2015