Books That Build!
How Can Books Help Us to Get the Conversation Started?
Building Confidence and Competence in young children is normally a difficult task. For children experiencing unsettling times? That difficulty increases the stakes for parents and educators both exponentially! Finding ” solid ground” while being bombarded by millions of questions and uncertainty is not easy. Making supporting our children’s ability to feel safe, secure, and capable can seem like it is impossible to accomplish. But today’s parents it is one of those challenges that must be conquered!
The problem is we as parents are having difficulty adjusting to an ever-changing world in real-time right alongside our children! Children who are keen observers to how we respond to everything from information, relationships, stress, and adversity. How we, as parents build resilience AND support healthy self-esteem in troubled times, is extremely important. Our children’s ability to withstand adverse experiences, isolation, and uncertainty is being shaped both by how they see us respond and the day to day experiences we provide them. We are what they know and trust.
In a global pandemic with the closure of schools and child care settings, sports and enrichment programs, parks and recreation centers, camps, etc. Many opportunities for learning experiences that normally would help build self-confidence are not available or, the same. And as parents, some of us are experiencing greater levels of difficulty accepting these changes in response to the present environment. As Covid19 shifts our attention from comfortable and familiar to basic survival at times? The rapid changes and weighty decisions about re-entering public settings for learning, arts, entertainment and even healthcare are not just being considered by us alone. Because our children are forced to process it all right alongside us! As as countless articles, videos, and media presentations attempt to define the impact of long term isolation on children and the importance of rising mental health concerns on our youth and families alike? Mental Health Professionals have begun sounding the alarm to parents who have been sharing personal stories to anyone willing to listen. ” Getting back to normal” – ” kids need to be in school with their friends -5 days a week” and ‘ My child was a star athlete before all this happened” are just a small sample of countless heartbreaking stories have fueled the national conversation and informed policy decisions. For better or worse? The results remain to be seen. But the effects are on display front and center and will not be ignored!
So what can parents do at home right now? Read!
The road to self-awareness, competence and confidence for kids is long and not without some unexpected twists, turns, peaks, and valleys. The Positives? There are many! Resilience is within all of us from infancy throughout adulthood! Even my own experiences continually show me that confidence and capability can be present, encouraged, and supported under incredibly challenging circumstances!
So how can books and literacy activities help us build a strong mind and skill set in our children and what are some easy conversation starters to parents could utilize to help young children?
Life challenges can be used as fuel for even the youngest among us to participate in rebuilding a better and more equitable future. Yes, even in pandemic! This health crisis has illuminated many strengths and weaknesses within our homes and other public settings. The key is utilizing these real-life teachable moments toward a positive outcome! And not being afraid to engage with children in open, honest, meaningful ways. All while preserving their mental wellness, highlighting their inner strengths and coping skills! Books and Stories have almost magical ways of opening up conversations, sparking creativity, and imagination. While simultaneously encouraging individuality and community! Books help identify complicated emotions and can be a great help in sorting through difficult situations! Books encourage the building of Genuine Positive Relationships blocks and bridges between Parents and Children Everyday!
Self Confidence – Self Awareness- Situational Awareness and empathy are key attributes that ultimately lead to a positive self-image and healthy social-emotional development. Babies are born wired to engage and connect however a positive self-image, self awareness, and situational understanding are not innate. To put it simply, we are not born with it, it is a skill set that needs to be modeled, shaped, supported, and reinforced. Nurturing compassionate, capable, confident preschoolers is essential in challenging times for children, families, and communities! The benefits of which lead to success in school ( whatever that looks like in a post Covid19 world?) and life!
Let’s Set the Stage 4 Success Together:
What is Positive Esteem and why is it important in the PreSchool Years?
Positive Self Esteem in children is the way they think and feel about themselves, how they feel about the ways in which they do things, how they view their failures and successes. Ultimately how they see themselves and their values in the world around them. Self Esteem in the early years is strongly influenced by our attitudes and behaviors as parents. When children are encouraged to see their beauty and uniqueness, their strengths, and challenges constructively, the sky is the limit! They can recognize what they do well and identify areas where they may need a little help! When parents create a climate where children can feel safe enough to ask questions and ask for help… they will! The positives that come from creating a space where children feel safe to express their needs are many. Building Communication Skills, Resilience, Confidence, and Capability that can withstand adversity and challenging circumstances. Children who are confident can adapt more quickly and navigate troubling circumstances differently than those who feel less valued and important. To put it simply confident children are highly self-motivated and likely to challenge themselves, recognizing that ” trying” is a necessary building block to success. Planting and sowing the seeds of a growth mindset in young children!
What is Self and Situational Awareness in the Early Years? How do spot it in our children?
Self Awareness( Situational Awareness) speaks more to a young child’s ability to recognize what is happening around them. Be present, aware in real-time remaining mindful of how their words, actions, and decisions impact those around them. A greater understanding of how others in the situation perceive their behaviors, a deeper understanding of when to draw upon their strengths, and contribute toward a more positive resolution and have a keen understanding of when to pull back or follow so to speak. They are more readily available to accept and address those skill sets that need improvement and learn from their mistakes! They recognize that its all ” baked into the cake” part of the process of becoming a confident, motivated risk-taker creating a healthy realistic self-identity!
What Can Parents Do to Nurture healthy Self Esteem?
Raising Self Aware Constructive Children in challenging times requires a lot of attention. An open mind, a thought-provoking welcoming environment rich with opportunities for both age-appropriate challenges and success. A place where your child can practice free thought, navigate challenges, and ask questions to help them refine their social and emotional skill set. Knowing that healthy self-esteem in young children is heavily influenced by our actions and reactions as parents is a necessary starting point before we can ” build” skills we must acknowledge how our actions have a direct relationship to how our children think and feel about themselves. According to Dr. Kyle Pruett ( a clinical professor of Child Psychology at Yale, Educational Board Advisor for the Goddard School and award-winning author. “It requires a gentle hand and a deft touch.”Too much prodding and parents are virtue-signaling; too little and kids don’t have a proper sense of their skills or who they are. It’s not easy, But it is imperative for parents to actively nurture their child’s self-awareness without boxing them in.
Parents who raise self-aware kids share some common traits and action steps that help cultivate self-awareness in preschoolers. One of the easiest things they do is simply tune in to what interests their child has. Thus identifying their strengths and natural capabilities, and build upon those interests! This provides repeated opportunities to master those strengths and navigate their challenges as parents act as a guide and facilitator of the learning experience! Identifying strengths helps parents to better define interests of their children. And develop a growth mindset while strengthening vocabulary and zeroing in on their positive attributes. As Dr. Pruett puts it…
“When we reflect back to our children on their traits, their tastes, their desires, and we articulate them, we are helping them develop a language and a vocabulary for being self-aware.”
Simply put parents that place great importance on raising self-aware children do not wait to start! In fact, the toddler years are not commonly referred to as the ” terrible twos” for nothing! The onset of toddler hood ushers in the age of ” questions, challenging behavior, and the quest for independence! Setting the stage for many opportunities to practice positive vocabulary building, effective real role modeling, and skill-building too! The Good Stuff that happens every day whether we know it or not! Highly Self Aware Parents take great care in shaping their children’s environments! By choosing a constructive, honest, encouraging, clear language. And taking steps to help children achieve their goals. Which supports a sense of mastery over their circumstances no matter what they may be!
How can Books and Stories be used as ” Building Blocks” to Nurture Self Confident – Capable- Compassionate Thinkers and Doers?
Books and stories have a magical way of engaging little minds! Awakening their senses of wonder, curiosity, individuality, Community, and Pride! Providing opportunities for children to see themselves reflected, understand that the written word ” has power and meaning.” Connecting words to feelings and emotions through common childhood shared experiences. Books can be mutually engaging for adults and children alike! Giving Parents natural easy conversation starters that help us understand our child’s interests, sense of humor, challenges, and imagination! Asking open-ended questions and helping to define some of the feelings and emotions happening in real-time for your little one as the books provide the backdrop for such easy teachable moments. So sit back, relax, and let your child lead the way!
ALL About Healthy Self Identity – Self Awareness- And Confidence in The Face of Adversity!
10 Pre- K Books That ” Build” Self Confidence, Celebrate What Makes Us Unique, And Encourage Self Awareness