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Give Your Child the Gift of Self-Esteem
Much has been said about the "gifted child" but in truth every child is born with unlimited potential. As expressed so well by Orison Marden:
"Deep within man dwell those slumbering powers; powers that would astonish him, that he never dreamed of possessing; forces that would revolutionize his life if aroused and put into action."
This statement can be true for your child. Not just if he's a "gifted child" but any child. Indeed, perhaps we should consider a "gifted child" to be a child whose parents have gifted him with a high self-esteem.
Children with high self-esteem are happier and more successful. Low self-esteem is common in children who are performing badly at school, have behavioral problems and suffer from depression.
At this early stage, it's important to respond to all your baby attempts at communication. Attend to her when she cries (this does not preclude training her gently into a stable routine), mirror her attempts at facial communication and reward the infant sounds she makes by praising her and talking back to her.
The "Can-Do" Toddler
It is such a crucial stage and one that is stifled by many parents. Yes, you need to control your child's behavior so that he doesn't hurt himself or damage valuable property. But you also need to give him opportunities to express this exploratory behavior without constant criticism and telling-offs.
Put valuables out of reach and supply your child with toys or household items that he can play with safely. Try to find time to get down on the floor and play with your toddler. Let him watch you and imitate you. He could play on the kitchen floor with some pots and wooden spoons while you are cooking.
But if you want your child to grow into a successful adult, you would do better by teaching her firmly what is and isn't acceptable in present day society. And, just as importantly, helping her to learn self-discipline and that you will support her in achieving anything she wants, as long as she does so ethically.
Discipline should be sensitive, thoughtful and appropriate. You should strive to never lose your temper but to discipline your child calmly and firmly. When is discipline appropriate? When your child's actions (or lack of them) may harm herself or others. When is discipline not appropriate? When it is purely for the parent's own selfish preferences.
Talk to Your Child
Are you having problems finding good behaviors to praise? If so, give your child a task to do that you know he is capable of. Children love earning their parents' approval. Also remember to praise your child for trying, on those occasions that he is not successful.
Set a good example; talk about your goals and successes, and teach your child by example to accept compliments gracefully. Resist the temptation to put yourself down when you are complimented - instead, say a simple Thank You. That's an important sign of a healthy self-esteem.
The other side of the coin to talking is, of course, listening. It is very important to listen to your child. When there is something he is upset about, don't sweep it under the carpet by saying "Don't be silly!" Whatever it is might seem totally trivial to you but often all your child needs is for you to empathise. "I'm sorry you feel sad about that." He may then come up with a solution, or put the incident behind him without further help. Or, you can suggest a solution.
The Power of Desire
A burning desire is the first, most important and essential step towards any major achievement. As a parent, you are in a unique position to influence another person's desires - your child's. By the time they reach their teens, you will have lost this influence to a significant degree, as young adults are swayed much more by their peers' opinions than their parents'.
So make the most of the early years by instilling positive, beneficial desires in your children. The desire to do well academically could shape your child's further education and career much more than her innate ability.
How can you instill desire? Telling stories is a great way. Children love stories! Be creative and tell stories where the hero or heroine has a burning desire for something, overcomes challenges and set backs, and achieves the desired outcome. Try telling stories where a child achieves academic success, which in turn results in something even more desirable. For instance, one story could tell of a child who has a burning desire to travel to the North Pole. She succeeds academically and thus wins an award, which makes her dream come true. Tailor the stories to your own child's life and experiences as much as you can.
The famous author Napoleon Hill used story-telling to instill in his almost-deaf son both a burning desire to hear, and a firm belief that his disability would actually bestow upon him a great advantage (although at the time even his father had no idea what that advantage could be). By the time this boy left college, he had against the odds acquired a hearing aid that enabled him to hear clearly for the first time in his life. More remarkably, he had justified his father's belief by securing a marketing position with the hearing aid manufacturer to bring the same benefit to millions of other deafened people.
"Gifted child"? Give your child the
gift of self-esteem, and you will give him the gift of happiness.
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For more information email rh(at)superbeing.com.