Thoughtful Parenting: Developing your child’s positive self-esteem |

Thoughtful Parenting: Developing your child’s positive self-esteem

Kathy Gibbs/For the Steamboat Today

— First Impressions, Routt County’s Early Childhood Education Council, will be continuing its Parenting and Pizza series from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Soda Creek Elementary. I will be leading the discussion on how to foster your child’s positive self-esteem.

First, I will talk about how an infant develops a “sense of self” as theorized by research conducted at the University of California, Davis. Then we will talk about how the stages of self awareness develop and how parents can foster their children’s positive self-esteem along the way. The talk will be focused on infants and children through age 5.

The first stage of self-development is called symbiosis, the next is rapprochement and refueling, the third is called practicing, and the final stage is called individuation. I will discuss how parents can help encourage their children’s successful completion of each stage. Key to this success is a child’s ability to become resilient and cope with stressors. Teaching a child how to cope with a problem instead of rescuing him or her from it is a way to instill positive self-esteem.

Dr. Carol Dweck, a psychologist from Stanford University, has written an excellent book to give concrete examples on how to encourage flexible thinking, another important ingredient for your child to develop positive self-esteem. Dweck’s book “Mind Set” will be discussed as well as ways to prevent your child from developing a fixed mindset, the opposite of a flexible mindset.

A fixed mindset will make it difficult for positive self-esteem to evolve because the child learns to doubt his or her ability to try new things and take on challenges. A flexible mindset allows the child to seek out and enjoy new challenges because, regardless of the outcome, he or she will learn from the process and be ready to take on a similar challenge next time.

With your help, messages from your child, such as “I can’t” indicating a fixed mind set, can be replaced by, “I haven’t learned that yet, but I’ll try” indicating a flexible mind set.

If you are interested in learning more about this fascinating topic of positive self-esteem, attend the Parenting and Pizza event Thursday night. Register for the event by calling First Impressions coordinator Stephanie Martin. Child care and pizza will be provided, and $5 to $10 donation is requested.

Dr. Kathy Gibbs is licensed psychologist and executive committee member of First Impressions, Routt County’s Early Childhood Council.

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