Step 2: Positive Sense of Self
About This Module
When children bully other children they tend to target what is different about them. These differences can be diverse, anything from race and religion to whether your child has the latest stuff or not.
This module is all about helping your child have a positive sense of who they are and feel happy in their own skin. This positive sense of who they are can act like a superpower in a young child’s mind to protect them from even the most hurtful bullying, by giving them the power of pride in who they are.
The WeParent approach will help your child build their confidence and self-esteem as you work through this module together. Teaching your child to recognise and be proud of the things they’re good at, work on their self-talk and learning skill of mindful reflection.
Giving our kids pride in themselves, starting even with the smallest thing, is a foundation on which they can build pride in whatever they choose to. So, whatever the differences your child sees in themselves they learn to see them as points of pride, not things to hide away from. This positivity about who they are stops bullies form gaining the power over them. By learning to monitor your child’s self talk, you can help them focus on the positive influences in their lives. Too many kids are trapped in a negative cycle in their own minds, which means even mild bullying stays with them for many years, eating away at who we are and crushing our self-esteem. We give you the tools to break this cycle in your child before it takes hold.
Mindful reflection is a hugely empowering tool when preparing kids for any challenge in life, especially when preparing them to face bullying at school or online. It’s the skill of letting your child decide for themselves whether things said to them are important, or to be ignored. This is crucial skill whether your child whatever challenges life throws at them. Empowering your child to disagree with what others think of them, and choose to listen to positives over negatives will take away bullies power over them for good.
What You’ll Learn
Build your child’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
Build a sense of pride by teaching your child to recognise things they’re good at.
Teach your child to have positive self-talk.
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Psychology Fun Facts
What is Sense of Self?
In psychology, a ‘sense of self’ or self-image is defined as the way a person thinks about and views their own actions, beliefs, strengths and purpose within the world.
Why is sense of self important?
Having a sense of what you’re good at and what you can do and can’t do yet, is the very beginning of our children knowing who they are in the world. It is vital to making friends and ultimately is a building block to having positive self-esteem.
Sense of self is a vital friendship skill. Children select friends whose sense of self appears to match their own. Sharing interests, abilities and values represent a similar sense of self and helps children to form long lasting friendships.
In young children, a healthy sense of self contributes to good sharing, taking turns and starting to resolve conflict on their own.
Why is self-esteem important in child development?
Many adults struggle in life with low self-esteem. One cause of low self-esteem is an underdeveloped sense of self in early childhood. You can help your child build healthy self-esteem by helping them develop a positive sense of self during childhood.
Infants have yet to develop a sense of self. They simply exist in the world and to their young minds they can have little or no impact on what happens around them.
Then, gradually they start to realise they can have an impact on what happens. Little things are where it starts. Baby smiles at Mum, causing Mum to smile back. Baby throws their toy off the highchair, Mum picks it up. Do it again, and Mum picks it up again. This is your baby learning their actions cause other actions. This is called agency.
Children Learning about Agency
One early concept we learn by the age of 3 is called Agency. This is basic cause-and-effect. i.e. if I do something, it can cause something to happen. Toddlers are new to this and often don’t fully understand that their actions cause other people to react.
An easy example is, a toddler takes a toy from his friend, his friend cries. A toddler is still learning that taking the toy made his friend cry. The toddler who took the toy very likely doesn’t realise his actions caused his friend to cry.
Sense of Self as a Toddler
Toddlers have very limited sense of self. They don’t view themselves as being good at things or bad at things, there are just things I do and things others do for me.
Toddlers start to learn that some of their actions can please their parents and others displease their parents.
Sense of Self at 3-5 years
During early childhood, children start to describe themselves using words. I have long hair. I am a girl. I can run fast. I am 3.
This act of describing themselves is a developmental milestone for children. It shows they are starting to develop their sense of self and can distinguish themselves from others.
At this age, there is very little concept of better or worse, just different.
Sense of Self at 6-8 years
During the mid-childhood years, our sense of self develops further. Children are starting to see all the things in the world that can be done and sort them in their minds by what they can do and what they can’t do. For example, dress myself – can do, drive a car – can’t do.
Often children talk of ‘can do now’, ‘not yet’ or ‘can do when I am bigger’.
In a nutshell, sense of self is an intuitive skill which our children learn themselves. As a parent, we can monitor our child’s progress on developing sense of self and help them along the way when needed.
A parent can encourage their child’s sense of self by giving descriptive praise, such as “You can wash your hands by yourself now.”
There are two main reasons a child may be falling behind on their sense of self.
Firstly, your child may naturally focus on what they can’t do rather than what they can do. This could be learned from modelling your approach to life or from their natural disposition.
Secondly, you may be focusing too much on what they can’t do and criticising their failures rather than focusing on praising what they are already good at.
You can help your child to develop a positive self-esteem by helping your child to evaluate its actions according to standards that you pass on to your child.
A child develops a positive self-esteem when 80% of the feedback the child receives is positive, and less than 20% of the feedback is negative or critical. Low self-esteem develops when a child is exposed to a high proportion of criticism or negative feedback.
Where to next?
Now that you’ve got a much more in-depth understanding of just how big a role the importance of teaching your child to have a positive sense of self in becoming bully-proof, it’s time to get started on the practical side with your child. There are three strategies which you can do in whichever order you prefer. These are “Find Positive Skills”, “Managing Self-Talk” and “Mindful Reflection”.
So, head back to the Module of the Week section on our Categories Page to get started.
Remember, this is just one of the three strategies – Teaching Your Child What Bullying Is, Assertiveness and Positive Sense of Self. Each of these modules will give your child a separate set of life skills.