The development of self esteem in the early years

Development of self esteem is one of the most important aspects of the early years and one that I believe is the key to everything we do in life. It is one of the prime areas of learning and development in the Early Years and, without the sensitive support of adults, this area of development can be easily overlooked. Children who are respected and confident in their abilities will thrive, whereas those who have little self belief find school hard.

Starting off

Starting Nursery for the first time or joining a new setting can be an anxious time for both parents and children. Our Pre-Nursery group is one way that children and parents can spend time getting to know the staff, the Nursery environment and the routines of the setting. I always feel that it is as important to settle and reassure parents as much as it is to make the children feel at home. An anxious parent will make an anxious child so these sessions are for the benefit of the adults as well as the children. Conversations about the child’s interests and family life give an overall picture and the staff can then tap into these interests to make the transition from home to nursery as smooth as possible. Our online Journal provides an opportunity for parents to complete an ‘All about me’ section for their child which adds to the profile of each child.

Who is the Key Person?

The key person helps children to feel emotionally safe. Warmth and affection combined with clear and appropriate boundaries and routines help children to grow in independence and a belief in what they can do for themselves. Children should feel able to express their feelings and emotions and this can be achieved by talking to an understanding adult who is sensitive the needs of each child and can acknowledge their feelings in an encouraging conversation. For example, “I know you are upset, but if you wait then it will be your turn next.” A respectful relationship, where children are treated and cared for as individuals, where kindness is paramount and encouragement for doing the right thing or for trying hard is given instead of admonishment for making a mistake, can make for an increase in self-esteem and self-confidence. I love to see the smile on a child’s face when they feel respected, they seem to grow in stature and often can be heard giving praise and encouragement to others.