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How To Develop Self-Esteem in Five Year Olds

Aug 18, 2007
Self-esteem is a valuing process and results from an ongoing self-appraisal in which traits and abilities are acknowledged and evaluated (Webster's Dictionary 1999. Self-esteem is importantly made up of self-image: how one views themselves. . and self concept: the ideas one may have about themselves.

Between the ages of one and five, children progress from an awareness that they are independent individuals to trying to understand who they are and how they relate to others. In this progress, children move from first recognizing themselves in a mirror, to knowing their name, gender, and what belongs to them.

As Erik Erikson pointed out, young children's self-concept is largely defined by the range of skills that demonstrate their independence and initiative kindergartners jump at almost any opportunity to show that "I can do it" attitude.

An emerging self-concept can also be seen in a social interaction between two five year-old children who each share their names and show off an interesting toy. They both exhibit enthusiasm and interact quite independently.

The growth of a five-year olds' self-awareness is nowhere more apparent than with parents, family, and friends right before the kindergartner's preschool years, parents find themselves dealing with a stubborn toddler whose primary skill is tantrums.

However, as children's theory of mind expand, it gives them a better understanding of how they and other people think and feel, their problems with parents, what they will eat, when they will go to bed--evolve from demands and defiance to bargaining and rationalizing (Crockenberg 1990).

According to Erikson's theory, children who are younger than five years old have left the stage of autonomy versus shame and doubt and are in the stage of initiative versus guilt This stage is tied to the child's developing sense of self and the awareness of a larger society, where five year old children take on new play activities and feel guilty when their efforts result in failure.

Their readiness to take the initiative reflects a five year olds' desire to finish things, not simply to assert their autonomy as they did as toddlers. For an example, in a school classroom a five year old may take the initiative in building blocks, where a younger child in the autonomy stage would rather knock down the blocks.

Overall, in reading about self-esteem, I have come to realize that children need a sense of self-understanding When children have this, it helps to increase their social understanding with friends, families, and even more importantly--with their teachers.

The classroom teacher can enhance social interactions and help young children to learn about who they are and contribute to their self-understanding and self-evaluation.

To build the understanding of self I would implement a variety of lessons within my classroom Assignments that involve manipulatives that encourage creativity and teamwork will be implemented. Also, I can see myself implementing these concepts in a variety of subject matters.

For example, when teaching about seeds in Kindergarten, I would lead students through textbook assignments while actually planting seeds in the Kindergarten play area. While we watch the seeds grow, I would talk about how the soon to be flowers or beans would feel about their changing environment Also about how we can't give them too much water or they will die, or too much sun, because they will also wither away too.

We could then discuss how we all need nurturing, love, water, and food. We can talk about how it wouldn't be right to make them do grownup jobs and then correlate that to a lesson on community helpers.

The point is to get them to utilize their wonderful open Kindergarten minds, and explode their thoughts into learning about social studies, math, science, and most of all: reading.

Every time a young child makes a statement that makes sense, within their mode of reasoning, it is so important to EXPAND on that thesis and give them EVERY opportunity to discuss it with the teacher and everyone else in their lives.

It is like the old adage that my greatest mentor taught me: "Ask them what it means to them after teaching them, and you have a student who will become a lifelong learner and listener to their elders." -Dr. Else Jacobson
About the Author
"Helping ALL to Succeed"
Don Alexander, Noted Author & Online Business Mentor
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