Parents usually tell children what they should not do. ("Don’t climb on the table. Don’t spill your milk.") Last week we focused on changing this: learning how to tell children what we want them to do. ("Sit on your chair at the table. Pour your milk carefully.") This week, as we continue to talk about good discipline, we explore self esteem.
Protect and preserve children’s feelings that they are lovable and capable. We refer to a person’s feelings of being lovable and capable as an IALAC (I Am Lovable And Capable). An IALAC is your self-esteem. No one can see it, but it is an important part of the person you are. People need big, strong IALACs if they are to love and to be loved, and if they are to feel good about their capacity to learn and to function well in the world. IALACs grow or shrink as a result of personal experiences, particularly in relationships with other people.
Adults can hinder or foster the growth of children’s IALACs. Which one is the better response to a child’s behavior?
Can’t you do anything right?—-or—-That’s a hard job. Let’s do it together.
You’re too little to do that, let me.—or—Let’s see if we can do it together.
What’s the matter with you, acting like a baby?—or—I need your help in pushing the cart.
The following is a great idea to help ourselves watch the language we use when talking with young children: Make a large paper heart and put your child’s name on it. This represents your child’s IALAC. Each time you think your child hears something that hurts his IALAC, tear off a scrap of the paper, a big scrap for a big hurt and a little scrap for a little hurt. How big of an IALAC does your child have at the end of the day? The next day, see what it takes to build up your child’s IALAC. Building up a child’s self-esteem takes more work than tearing it down.
Twinkletime Rhymes to Print