Building children’s confidence is a key way to help them recover from the disruption and uncertainty of the last 18 months, according to one parenting expert who shared one important way parents can help develop their children’s self-esteem.
Anita Cleare, author of “The Working Parent’s Survival Guide,” told CNBC via telephone that “bouncing back from lockdown and from the challenges of Covid and social distancing is big on parents’ agenda right now” based on what she’d been asked as a parenting expert.
Many children have just returned for a new school year after around 18 months of disrupted learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, having spent most or part of that time being home-schooled.
Research published in March by Horace Mann, a U.S. financial services firm focused on educational professionals, found that more than half of the 941 U.S. educators it surveyed reported a “significant” learning loss in their students upon their return to school. In addition, 57% of respondents estimated that their students had fallen behind on their social-emotional progress by more than three months.
Cleare said that parents had already done their “fair share” of helping children keep up with school work over the last year and a half. Instead, she suggested that parents focus on supporting their child emotionally and help to build back their self-esteem, if they’ve struggled to readjust following pandemic restrictions.
One way to do this is to give children “moments to shine,” said Cleare, essentially giving them opportunities to feel a “sense of triumph and achievement.”
However, Cleare clarified that a “moment to shine” didn’t have to be a child excelling at their hobbies or academically.
“It’s not about that, it’s about them rising to a challenge and that could be a tiny challenge,” she said.
For instance, for a small child that “moment to shine” might be climbing to the top of ladder on a playground or learning to do something around the house.
Developing a child’s self-esteem is important, Cleare explained, as it “underpins good mental and emotional health going forward.” It also enables children to better “bounce back from adversity,” she added, by giving them the “forward momentum” to persist with overcoming obstacles.
A study published in 2015 by the University of Washington, found that children’s sense of self-esteem is already developed by the age of 5.
Cleare said that self-esteem is built on three key factors, one of which is feeling capable or good at something.
The second is feeling you’ve had an influence or impact on those around you, or even yourself when you progress at a skill, for example.
Thirdly, Cleare said self-esteem also comes from feeling accepted or valued.
A “moment to shine” brings together all three of these components, she said, because it helps children feel “competent and capable” that they’ve achieved something, along with having an impact on those around them, that people appreciate.