The Importance of WHAT and HOW
By Amy Fortney Parks, PhD-R

With the start of a new school year, it is a good time to think about WHAT we say to our youngsters and HOW it impacts their day-to-day experience, as well as their long-term success at school. Here are 10 tips for building self-esteem in children as they set off to a new year of learning and fun!

1. Encourage Patience and persistence – “You seem discouraged. Everyone makes mistakes! Let’s go over your mistakes together so that you’ll be able to avoid them next time.”

2. Emphasize what your child does right – “You’ve been doing great so far! Let’s see if we can work together to get you back on track.”

3. Promote planning – “Let’s break this project down into smaller, more manageable parts so that it doesn’t seem so overwhelming.”

4. Create conversations – “What was one of the things you learned today?” “What songs did you sing about in music class?” “What vegetables and fruit were in your lunch today?” “What equipment did you play with on the playground?”

5. Support self-expression and creativity – “You must have really worked hard to come up with such an original idea! The colors in that picture look so realistic!”

6. Craft constructive criticism – “Great! This report has many good ideas. You might consider arranging your thoughts to help the reader better understand your points.”

7. Compare your youngster’s progress to his/her own record – “Let’s not worry about your friend’s test grade. What’s important is your own efforts and achievements.”

photo credit: Vince Alongi via photo pin cc

8. Avoid labels – Off-handed comments are easily internalized by youngsters. DON’T say, “Joey never takes time to read directions.” “Sarah is a really shy girl.”

9. Focus on the here and now – “I’m pleased to see that you’ll be turning your project in on time.”

10. Continue to have high expectations – “It looks like a tough assignment, but with all that you have accomplished so far, I know you can do it!”

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