The way parents help their child to approach the challenges he faces has a great influence on how successful he will be in mastering the challenge. All too often I hear parents express concern that their child is bound to be like them - frightened of heights, have no sense of balance, dislike dogs, and so forth. A child is not a carbon copy of his parents, so it is very important not to assume that your child's strengths and weaknesses will be the same as your own. Between two and three years of age a child is becoming very aware of being a separate person and is beginning to form views and opinions of his own. During the third year most parents work hard to build their child's self-esteem and encourage him to become more confident. However, a child's increasing independence can sometimes cause him to become overconfident which can lead to disobedience. I think it is essential for parents to strike a happy balance between encouraging their child's new-found confidence and teaching him that there are certain rules to which we must all adhere.
Tips for improving your child's confidence
- It is very important that you allow your child time to think and answer for himself when asked a question.
- Always be consistent about rules and boundaries so that your child knows what his freedoms and constraints are.
- Try to encourage independence and skill-learning. During the third year almost all children are capable of self-feeding, undressing and, apart from buttons and zips, dressing themselves. Continuing to do these things for your child because it is quicker will do little to help his growing independence. Allow extra time at meals and in the morning and evening to guide him and encourage him to do these things for himself.
- When teaching new skills, it is important that you choose a time when your child is not overtired or hungry. Then, before doing it together, show him several times how it is done. Once he attempts it by himself it is important to praise him for his efforts, even if he doesn't get it quite right.
- Second children appear to learn many skills more quickly than first children, probably because they copy their elder brother or sister. An only child will benefit greatly from being given the opportunity to mix with other children at playgroups or on play dates arranged at home,
- It is important not to undermine your child's attempts at something new by comparing him with others. The length of time it takes to learn a new skill varies from child to child, and the most important thing is not how long your child takes, but that he enjoys learning it. If you are concerned about your child's development, it is better to talk to your health visitor than to worry unnecessarily.
- Learning a new skill requires a lot of concentration from a child, which can sometimes lead to frustration and anger. If, despite being shown several times, your child is still struggling with a new task, a difficult jigsaw or game, try to resist interfering or doing it for him. It is much better to defuse the situation by suggesting a rest period with a drink and a biscuit. Once he has calmed down and relaxed he will be much more likely to listen to your advice on how to tackle the task.
Taken from Gina Ford's Top Tips for Contented Babies and Toddlers