By Amanda Carter, Head of School
One of the most common things we hear from parents when they are looking for a new school is that self-esteem is a significant issue for their child. As educators we know that a student’s lack of belief in their own abilities almost always leads to extreme struggles at school. At Noble Academy, we work incredibly hard in and out of our classrooms to help our kids trust and believe in themselves. Many of our kids get their first taste of academic success at Noble.
But, helping kids believe in themselves truly begins at home. It is imperative that anyone, grown-ups or kids, feel like they are making positive contributions to others in their lives. The first place kids can contribute is in their homes and with their families. These contributions can be as small as being responsible for their own toys and clothes and be as large as cooking for the whole family or taking care of younger siblings.
I challenge all parents to think about how you are showing your children that you believe in their abilities and you trust them to be capable of contributing in the home. What parents expect of their children very clearly sends a message. Children with no responsibilities or expectations to contribute at home are likely to believe they are not capable or trusted. This can affect academic performance, mood, and friendships.
Finding moments of success during the school day is also something our teachers do so well. They pay attention to each student and try to find opportunities everyday for a student to accomplish something without (too much) adult intervention. These are the moments where kids stand up straighter and their eyes light up. When they say “I can’t believe I did that,” it is often the very first step to developing their belief in themselves.
Finding these moments at home is equally important. There are plenty of chore charts by age that you can find on Pinterest. But, I would suggest really thinking about your own child and what responsibilities would grow their belief in themselves and make a positive difference at home.
What have they shown an interest in?
Do they have a lot of questions about food, or even better, seem to have a lot of opinions about what you are cooking for dinner? Don’t be afraid to spend some time teaching them basic kitchen safety, so they can become independent in the kitchen. Being responsible for menu planning, grocery shopping and cooking one or two nights a week can be life changing for some kids.
Do they love music and always want to pick the songs? Creating a series of family playlists for different events (dinner, holidays, outdoor time) could create an awesome sense of ownership and accomplishment.
Do they have strong feelings about what clothes they wear? Let them pick them out without intervention (within reason). But if they are independent with choosing their clothes, they should also be in charge of their own laundry, including putting their clothes away.
Did they beg you for that dog? Taking care of animals is an excellent way for kids to feel like the ultimate contributors.
Parenting is not a one size fits all endeavor. Each family is different. It can be incredibly difficult to slow your life down enough to teach your child about the dishwasher, the washing machine, the vacuum, where the extra toilet paper is located, and all the other pieces to keeping your house running smoothly. But, I promise the effort is worth it. Not only because you can become the ultimate delegator, but also because the more moments children have where they can contribute to your family, the more their confidence bucket will begin to fill.
Sending your child off into the world with belief in themselves is worth the investment of time and the effort it will take to bite your tongue when your child puts the bowls in the wrong place in the dishwasher. Be proud of them for doing the job and contributing. Plus, you may realize there actually is more than one “right” way to load a dishwasher.