Your baby's self-esteem begins to form as soon as he is born. He begins to learn about the world around him, not just what is in the world, but how the world reacts to him. You do many things everyday that add to your baby's self-esteem, and most of these you never even think about!
Your Infant's Self-Esteem
Infants are so tiny and helpless. How can they possible develop self-esteem? Before your infant was born, all of his needs were met instantaneously in the womb. Now, he has to vocalize his wants and needs. Obviously, he can't form words just yet, so he lets you know what he wants when he cries. How you respond will help to build your infant's self-esteem.
What are the basic needs of an infant? You'll need to keep her warm, dry, and well-fed. You'll need to give her short periods of interaction with you and with some suitable toys, books, etc. You may need to ease her into sleep and comfort her when she just needs a cuddle.
All of these basic needs are essential to her development. When you meet those needs, you are building her self-esteem. As you hold your baby, sing and talk softly to her. Look into her eyes and smile. Simply put, love her. When you do, everyday, you'll continue to build her self-esteem and help her develop into a well-adjusted child.
Your Baby's Self-Esteem
As your infant grows into a crawling bundle of joy, his needs will change somewhat. Sure, he'll still need to be fed, changed, and kept warm. He may need you to help him learn how to fall asleep on his own, and he may need different stimulation. But, he'll also learn how to interact more vocally and deliberately with you and other members of your family.
He'll learn how to laugh, and he'll watch closely as others respond to his laughter and his cries. He'll begin to explore and test his surroundings. He'll reach for new toys, knock his blocks down, and begin to turn the pages of his favorite book. As he learns each new skill, you are his most loyal cheerleader, building his self-esteem each day.
Your Toddler's Self-Esteem
As your baby becomes a toddler, she'll exert her independence more every day. It is your job to guide and encourage her as her world expands. You can show her how to do new things, and you can steer her away from things which might harm her. Balance is important, though.
If you spend your days following behind her, pulling her back and telling her "No!", you are limiting her development. While of course you don't want her to become injured, try not to always respond with a loud "No!" Instead, try the following options when possible.
- Look for ways to distract her, or give her alternatives that she can explore.
- Gradually increase her responsibilities, and let her help you do small chores around the house.
- Let her try things on her own before you jump in to help her.
- Give her simple choices that she can pick from when choosing clothing, food, favorite videos, etc.
Finally, encourage your child every day. Praise him when he learns something new, or when he is successful at a new accomplishment. Give him room to grow while you watch closely from the sidelines of his life. Jump in when you need to, and stand back when you can. As he continues to grow and mature, he'll learn to feel more positive and confident in himself, and that is what self-esteem is all about.