Guest Blogger Yolanda Coleman with some really AWESOME words of parenting wisdom that can help any parent in building your kids' self esteem.
While I encounter many things when working with students, low self-esteem is a recurrent theme. After 16 years teaching, it still blows me away every time I’m confronted with a student who suffers from low self-esteem. Its heart-breaking, but it’s also a motivator! I become even more determined to help these kids succeed and flourish and believe in themselves as capable learners. I serve as their number one cheerleader and provide them with the tools and strategies they need to problem solve and use their critical thinking skills.
Just the other day I was working with a small group of elementary students. We were working on the concept of telling time to the hour and half-hour in order to prepare for their upcoming math test. I varied the lesson from hands-on tasks, to independent activities, to group work, and the kids were getting it! They were accurate with their responses and confident in what they knew. I was thrilled! It wasn’t until the end of the lesson that one of my students said something that left me feeling completely crushed!
I had the kids working on five problems independently and as they were finishing up, this one student rushed through his final problem and as he handed in his paper, he said “great I am done and I’m not the LAST ONE!” With that, the other students rushed to complete their work. No one wanted to be the “last one” to hand in their paper. When I asked them why, they all pretty much said the same thing, “they felt weird when they finished last”.
They continued to tell me that they also rush through their tests, as to not to be the last one to hand them in. I know their classroom teacher personally, so I know for sure that she is not rushing or pressuring them to finish. They were placing this pressure squarely on their own shoulders. As difficult as it was to hear their words, their faces really told the whole story. They were afraid… afraid to be last, afraid to being ridiculed, afraid to be different. While it’s no secret that so many kids in our schools feel the same way, it’s always heart wrenching to witness it first-hand.
It’s been well documented that there is a strong link between struggling learners and low self-esteem. Conversely, when students feel good about themselves, they are much easier to motivate and more likely to become academically proficient. Fostering positive attitudes and building confidence is essential when working with students who are struggling. There are numerous ways that educators, parents, tutors and other educational professionals can help build a struggling learner’s self-esteem. Here are a few things to try!
Praise your child. Tell your child when you are proud of them for accomplishing a task. Use words like “I am proud of you…” or “You are a great reader…”
Help your child feel special and appreciated. Give them a “treat” when they are successful. This treat can be extra time with a parent or a friend. You could also allow them to be in charge of job or task – at home you could allow them to decide what is for dinner; in the classroom you could allow them to choose the book for the class’ read aloud.
Be an empathetic parent or teacher. Let the child know that you understand that they are having difficulty and that you realize that they are trying their best. You can present the problem and work on solving it together.
Allow them to have choices. This fosters independence and gives children a sense that they are in control of their choices.
Highlight their strengths. Reinforce your child’s strengths by sharing them with the class or family. For example, if your child is a good writer, display a sample of their work so others can see it.
Helping others can build confidence. Give your child the opportunity to help others. They can help siblings or their peers with an activity (homework, chores, arts & crafts, etc.). This is a quick and easy way to boost their self-esteem.
Yolanda Fontanez-Coleman was born and raised in Philadelphia where she taught elementary school for the more than 10 years. After the birth of her twin daughters, she was inspired to follow her dream and start her very own educational firm – Team Tutor. Launched in the summer of 2005, Team Tutor is an affordable, private, in-home tutoring company serving children throughout the greater Delaware Valley. As both a mother and educator, Yolanda knows first-hand the number of educational choices and challenges parents face every day. Yolanda holds a BA in Spanish Literature from Moravian College and an M.A. in Multi-Cultural Education from Eastern College. She is also a certified Wilson Reading® Specialist. During her free time she loves playing with her three girls, running with her husband, and training for races! You can learn more about Yolanda and her company by visiting www.yourteamtutor.com.