Extracurricular Activities and Child’s Self-esteem

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In 2016, Journal of Experimental Psychology published an article on the research which found that children’s self-esteem at the age of five was equal to that of an adult.

The study conducted at the University of Washington used the newest test to measure the self-esteem in five-year-olds, which is also the youngest age participating in this kind of research so far. Additionally, this is the first research to be able to detect self-esteem levels at such a young age. The previously used tests required mature thought processes and communication abilities, something that only tainted the research with children so young.

To conduct a successful study, the researchers Andrew Meltzoff, Dario Cvencek and Anthony Greenwald created the Preschool Implicit Association Test (PSIAT). This test measured the positive thoughts young children have about themselves.

“Self-esteem appears to play a critical role in how children form various social identities. Our findings underscore the importance of the first five years as a foundation for life,” said Cvencek.

Extracurricular activities are, therefore, something that is perfect to start with when your children are young. However, if you burden your child with too many obligations and expectations, that can have negative effects on their established self-esteem. So, here is some advice on how not to cross that line and help your child build and maintain a healthy sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

1.    Know their strength

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Not all children are the same. Some show more creative talents while others lean more towards science. Before you start going through possible extracurricular activities, you have to be realistic about your child’s skills. You’ve probably noticed what your toddler prefers more and concentrated on that. The same applies when it comes to choosing the appropriate extracurricular activity.

For example, if you notice they like to dance, sign them up for ballet classes or dance school. If they show advanced talent for singing or drawing, find suitable classes for them to develop that talent. Your support means the world to the child and it will have a tremendous positive effect on developing healthy self-esteem.

2.    Get interested yourself

Children like to show their parents what they learned and did. They want to make you proud of them and get your praise. The best way to show your child you are a supportive parent is to participate in their interests. You can even take the same classes with them since there are many offering parent-child lessons.

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This will not only be beneficial to their self-esteem but will also create a certain bond between you. Additionally, it is a wonderful way to spend some one-on-one time with your child and work on your relationship.

3.    Create a positive environment

It’s an honest mistake to think that your only obligation is to check and admire their progress. When it comes to extracurricular activities, you will have to be not only interested but also supportive in a practical way. Although some activities can be pricey, there is always a way to show you care.

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For example, if your child learns to play the piano, they should have an instrument at home so they can practice constantly. Or if they’re learning sewing to be a fashion designer one day, they need appropriate equipment to create the designs. You can help by looking for more affordable solutions like used pianos or sewing machines, cheaper materials and a metronome. They will appreciate the gesture and it will only make them surer of themselves.

4.    Don’t project your desires

Of course everyone has certain expectations from their children. It’s normal and expected, but that doesn’t mean it should be projected onto your child. It’s not only that they might not be interested in the same things, but they can be bad at those extracurricular activities.

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This can have a negative effect on their self-esteem and make them feel as though they’ve disappointed you. Therefore, listen to them and try to notice what they lean towards more. You can always try to interest them in the things you like, but do it in the form of a suggestion and without pressure.

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Certain skills come from home and your child will expect you to teach them about social engagements, positive values and challenges in life. However, your children are also individuals who have to create their own value system and opinions. So enjoy getting to know novelties about your child as they grow up and help them build their self-esteem. Because they grow up so fast as though a blink of an eye has passed.