Confidence Helps Kids Getting Ready for Kindergarten

Series Part #17: Self-Confidence Important for Kids Starting Kindergarten

Not just for kindergarten, but for anything and anyone, it’s much easier to start with an “I can do it!” attitude. Since children are not born with this confidence already locked in place, it needs to be part of the nurturing of parents and caregivers to help kids get ready for kindergarten. How can we encourage the development of a positive attitude and confident outlook?

The psychiatrist and author Rudolf Dreikurs wrote in 1971 that, “The most important skill for raising a child…is the ability to encourage that child.” We need to base that encouragement on children’s effort rather than on their achievement. Do you remember your child first trying to walk? Like parents everywhere, you smiled, held out your arms, and made faces and gestures that invited your child to try. There was celebration and delight even if the baby wasn’t successful that time. Unfortunately, after a few years, we seem to replace that encouragement for trying and only reward achievement. All too soon, children–and adults–only feel a sense of accomplishment when something is ‘done right.’

Encouraging children for their attempts, can be tricky. If a child is doing a puzzle, instead of saying “I can hardly wait to see the picture when it’s all done,” or worse, “That’s not where that piece goes, check out the picture,” we could acknowledge the attempt with, “You are putting that piece in lots of places to see if that’s where it fits.” Then, a question such as “Does the picture have any clues?” can direct a child’s attention to another strategy. The effort is encouraged rather than the result.

Having a positive attitude to learning, with confidence and eagerness to try, is important for anyone. Considering how much there is to learn, this can give children a powerful foundation and advantage. How does your child feel about learning?

Mother’s Day Easy Breakfast Treat Kids Can Make

Easy Breakfast or Brunch Treat for Mother’s Day

Two of chidren’s early words are “Me do” and they are spoken with firm determination. Kids like to be able to do things by themselves and feel a sense of accomplishment and pride. It’s not always easy or appropriate for us to let them but they sure like to try. A treat for mom’s is to make a special breakfast or brunch. This can be quite a challenge, especially with the ‘help’ of young children.

easy mother's day treatAn easy-peasy treat that young kids can make is fruit pieces with a dip or sauce. If the fruit chunks are big enough, they can be dipped, or small ones can be mixed with a sauce. The dip or sauce can be flavored yogurt or plain combined with softened cream cheese or chocolate shavings, (use a potato peeler to make flakes). Children can help wash the fruit but for this kind of washing, they don’t need soap!! Kids can find such unexpected ways to help. Fruit can be bananas, apples, oranges, strawberries, melons, kiwis, grapes, or practically any other kind of fruit that’s available where you live. Kids 3 or 4 years old are often capable of slicing a banana or other soft fruit using a plastic knife. Grownup hands need to cut the harder ones.

easy mother's day treatServe the bowl of fruit with a sauce or dip, on a child’s artwork placement, and have a child fold a napkin. If lots of fruit is used, there will be enough for the whole family. No cooking needed, but tasty and looks colorful and appealing. There won’t be many prep dishes to wash either altho slicing all that fruit can leave a mess on the counter or table. Kids can help with cleanup too. That’s another significant life skill. Best of all, the kids have contributed their effort to doing something special and this helps with feelings of belonging, being important and self-confidence.

Perhaps, those are some extra ingredients in the recipe? Happy Mother’s Day

Kindergarten Readiness – Y = Yourself

Even though this is coming almost at the end of the readiness skills series starting with each letter of the alphabet, it is probably the basis for all the rest. Y = yourself, or the child’s sense of self and self-concept.

Before children are about 3 years old, they see themselves in terms of labels and things they do: girl or boy, age, color of hair, eyes, good or bad, swim, jump, etc. As children grow and develop beyond this age, so does their long-term memory and they start to include their memories of things that have happened and their feelings. Children who can cope with frustration and difficulty see themselves as quite capable. Children who are easily frustrated see themselves as less able even though the opposite may actually be the case. The difference  may be based on temperament and have nothing to do with ability! This makes sense even for adults. If we try to do something and are easily frustrated and discouraged we think we can’t do it, maybe we’re just  dumb. On the other hand, if we have a high tolerance for frustration, we continue on and think we are capable. Of course, there are more factors than this that contribute to the sense of self, but we can boost children’s sense of self-worth by giving them strategies to cope with frustration.

Humor is one strategy. At school, sometimes when kids are having a lot of difficulty with an activity, we practice using words instead of ripping the paper or throwing the lego. We use ones like oh macaroni, oh pizza, oh ice cream with sprinkles and cherries and whipped cream and chocolate sauce and marshmallows,  and…ketchup, and…gravy…, and by this time the child has usually started to giggle and we can try again. Sometimes, we practice saying in lots of different voices, “It’s ok to be frustrated, it’s not ok to throw.”  I usually start off high and drop my voice and my body lower and lower and ask the child if it’s ok yet, because if I go any lower I’ll have to get on the floor. Stories can also help, such as one many parents might remember, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

For today, help your little one deal with frustration and take it in stride. This is a strategy that we can all practice.  Any suggestions for tomorrow’s Z?