Over the past fifteen
years as a Childminder, I’ve had the opportunity to observe different age
groups of children, all playing together. At the beginning of my career, I felt
the need to structure and plan activities and to keep them all busily occupied.
Now, experience has shown
me that children require as little adult intervention as possible, and more
free choice and opportunities for spontaneous play.
This is when they have
real fun and enjoy each other’s company, and when you hear real laughter and
When we interfere or try
to entertain them constantly, they don’t learn how to amuse themselves, and
inevitably get bored when left to their own devices. This can lead to negative
or positive attention seeking behaviours.
Our children crave our
time and attention and delight in any we offer. They look to us for acceptance
that they are doing it the right way. But when it comes to play, there is no right or wrong way, so we can
encourage them to do it their way.
Even if they are
technically wrong, we can allow them to think for themselves and show them that
we don’t mind. If they colour the grass
purple when drawing a picture, then that’s okay, it’s their picture, we can
approve of it exactly as they want it to be. The grass doesn’t have to be
There’s a time and a place for formal learning and fact finding and a time and a place for freedom, love, and acceptance. Our children won’t grow up believing the grass is purple, because we haven’t corrected them or criticised their picture when they were three years old. They’ll soon learn its green by themselves, if given the opportunity to play outside. But they will grow up to feel creative, confident and with a healthy level of self-esteem, when we give them the freedom to express themselves in way’s we don’t think are correct.
Its Childrens Mental Health Week this week. As parents don’t you think it’s time that we taught our children how to become more Selfish?
This word selfish though, is not to be misunderstood
or taken in a negative, egocentric context.
Here when referring to making our children more
selfish, we mean we are helping them to build more of the five self’s below;
What our children believe they can do, achieve or be.
– How our children view themselves, for example how they see their intelligence
or physical attractiveness.
– How well our children look after and treat themselves generally, including
diet and exercise.
SELF CONFIDENCE – How our children act or assert themselves and how sure they are in their own ability.
SELF ESTEEM – How our children regard and acknowledge their good qualities and think and feel about them-selves in general. Including how much they like themselves or believe that they are a good person, deserving of all the good that life has to offer or not?
These five selves all impact upon one another, but not
One child may have a good self-image and find
themselves attractive but may not have any confidence in their academic ability.
Another may excel at sports but have low self -esteem
in every other area of their life. It just depends on what they place value or
importance on in their lives.
We can only go so far in helping our children, they
play the most important part themselves so, it’s time to step back and allow
them to be themselves.
This should come naturally. Yet with so much influence
and input from others, over time our children may find that being themselves is
not so good?
That’s when they try to change themselves to fit in or
to become accepted by others.
This can be damaging to their self –esteem and can affect their self -confidence in all areas of their lives, sometimes creating unhealthy habits.
Only they can learn who they really are and discover what they really like. Knowing themselves is essential to their, happiness, health and success, because without knowing this, they will be aiming at the wrong goals in life.
A famous philosopher once said ‘Know thyself’ But this
can be perplexingly difficult for our children at times, as they are constantly
changing, and clouded by hormones and emotions.
We can however, support our children in their uncertainty by helping them form a positive impression of themselves and life in general, while they are young.
This is important because they carry their beliefs
about themselves as a child into adulthood. And those beliefs usually determine what they
do and who they become in the future.
Our children will become whoever they believe
themselves to be.
But a large contribution of their beliefs and their
self- image, will be formed from other people’s opinions and perspectives about
Unfortunately, other people’s negative opinions about
them can stick in their young, impressionable minds, staying with them even as adults.
These create self- limiting beliefs’ that can hold
them back if not challenged.
Self- limiting beliefs can become the enemy to success
and happiness if not overcome.
Especially potent are those beliefs created by authority
figures such as from parents and teachers.
If a child is told they ‘Will never be any good at….’.
fill in the blank with a subject, these negative comments stick in their
They believe them to be true, even if years later they
have proven them to be wrong. The negative belief somehow sticks?
Often, they will look for ways to prove their teacher
right, albeit subconsciously. Then when their negative self -beliefs and attitude
inevitably causes them to fail, they think ‘Well, the teacher did say I would never
be any good at it and look they were right.’
We need to challenge our children’s self -limiting
beliefs and find out where they came from?
And whether or not the source was correct or reliable?
Our job as ‘Proactive’ and ‘Present’ parents is seeking
to prove our children’s self -limiting beliefs wrong rather than right, and
reinforcing the things that our children are good at and can do.
There will always be things our children find
challenging, but they shouldn’t avoid those things or believe they are unachievable.
Nothing is impossible with the right support and