With all the talk about health literacy and patient engagement at the moment, I often wonder about the patients of the future. The 50 year old patients of the mid to late 21st century are only children and young teenagers now. How engaged will they be? Will they be health literate? Will they know enough about their health to be able to make informed choices when it matters?
As a nurse, Mom and health literacy advocate I pay special attention to my own children’s health literacy. They roll their eyes often, but I hope that my subliminal health education tips are sinking in. I won’t know how successful my efforts have been until they are adults. I’ll keep you posted on that!
Along with my sneaky health promotion, I believe that confidence will enhance their ability to speak their mind about their health. More importantly, I hope it will mean they won’t hesitate to say if something about their care is not quite right.
I came across this very useful article from renowned early childhood educator Liz Allan on how to instil confidence in our little earthlings. What parent doesn’t want their child to be confident?! Don’t forget to check out the fantastic resources that Liz has created for parents who want to give their child the best start in life.
“Confidence is a difficult concept. It includes a feeling that you have that ability to learn and work hard to achieve a goal, but it also includes self-esteem – a feeling of self-worth and that you are happy with yourself. For children, confidence comes from their parents – their influence, their attitude and their love.
Building your child’s confidence needs to be carefully balanced. An under-confident child is as likely to have problems as an over-confident one. You want your child to believe in their abilities and their worthiness, based on reality. That confidence will allow them to try new challenges, learn new things, and believe that their capabilities will lead them to success.
Your child needs to know, first and foremost, that you love them – no matter what they achieve. Your love is not conditional on them coming first in class or winning a race, and it is not even dependent on their behaviour. You may not approve of their behaviour at times, but you still love them.
Give praise when it is earned, and always give positive encouragement. Too much praise can lead to your child only doing things for the praise they get, or not making any effort at all because every little thing they do is praised by their parents. Rather use positive feedback to encourage your child – “You tried really hard”, “I’m proud of you for the work you put into that picture” – than over-doing the praise. Try to criticize the behaviour, not the child, when criticism is required.
Teach your child to handle mistakes and failure. Everyone fails some time, but by helping your child recognize where mistakes were made, and why, you help them realize that they can learn from their mistakes, and do better next time.
Your child needs to learn that effort and hard work are required in order to conquer new challenges, and that practice will help to develop their skills, whether in writing or catching a ball. This important lesson will prepare them for future challenges where they will have to exert themselves to achieve success.
Self-discipline is part and parcel of self-confidence, and you need to teach your child that they are in control of their actions. It is their choice whether they keep trying and succeed, or give up when the going gets tough.
A ‘can do’ attitude is very important. Encourage your child to try new things – hitting the ball with a bat, learning to count to 10, riding a bicycle and reading a sentence – whatever it is, tell your child you believe they can do it if they try hard and practice. Eventually, they’ll believe it too – and go out and do it.
A confident child is more likely to succeed at school, socially as well as academically. The confidence you help your child to build now will last the rest of their lives, and help them in their every endeavour.”
Liz Allan is the author of Worksheets for Pre-School. She has helped hundreds of pre-school children to be better prepared for school – and life.
Additional Resources* you may be interested in:
Visit www.worksheetsforpreschool.com and start building your child’s confidence and literacy skills.