© Paul Hakimata | Dreamstime.com
As parents and caregivers, we want our children to do many things. We want them to succeed, to make good decisions, to be kind, productive adults.
But if we boil these aspirations down to one essential hope for our kids, isn’t it that we want them to be happy and content? It’s a hope all parents share, but perhaps more than just happiness is at stake. Your child’s path through childhood is shaped by the self-confidence you instill during the first years of life.
Attachment builds self-esteem
Science has a lot to say about the impact of healthy self-esteem. One of the most obvious benefits is widely understood: People who report higher levels of self-confidence tend to be healthier than people who report low self-confidence.
But another outcome has roots in the interactions we have with our children in their earliest years. The confidence we instill early on has an impact on social success for the rest of their lives.
During these first three years, your child develops a sense of safety and assurance that you are willing and able to meet her needs. Scientists call this crucial part of development attachment. The research says self-esteem is strongly influenced by the quality of early attachment. Children who develop healthy attachments in infancy tend to show high marks on later tests of self-confidence, while early attachment problems are associated with low self-confidence.
Guiding towards confidence
Without healthy attachment in early childhood, a child’s sense of insecurity might lead to her withdrawal from social interactions, stifling her intellect and creativity.
By contrast, a securely attached infant is likely to grow into a confident child who leaps into challenges with gusto. Her parents are less likely to become overprotective, and her aura of confidence promotes social competence with peers and teachers. It can also make her a more effective learner, shrugging off early failures, adapting, then persisting until she gets it right.
Build self-confidence early by listening and responding to your child’s observations. Talk her through the steps of a tough task. Let her fail in safe settings, but be there with a guiding hand before significant frustration sets in. Rather than doing all things perfectly for your child, be there while she slowly learns how to do it her way. The sense of mastery she gains will build the self-confidence she needs for a lifetime of success.