Your child’s self-image is formed in the first seven years of his life, and the image he forms of himself really mirrors how you as his parents relate to him. This is why a child who grows up with constant positive input has a positive self-image. Getting this right is actually quite simple if you follow these steps:
1. Give unconditional love
When your child feels loved and competent at the things he does, he will have a positive self-image. You convey this to him in how you relate to him. Your child needs to know that you love him for who he is, and not what he does.
2. Use positive labelling
Always discipline your toddler in a positive manner. Don’t use labels like “you’re a naughty boy” – what else can you expect from a naughty boy but naughtiness? Children will live up to their labels for the simple reason that the subconscious mind cannot reject information. When you put a label on your child, his subconscious mind accepts it, and if the majority of messages a child gets are negative, he will develop a negative self-image. If you find you’ve been doing this, gradually and systematically bombard your toddler with positive self-concept images.
3. Use "I" messages
When you are disciplining your toddler, using “you” messages are almost always destructive – “You were very mean to that little boy”, for instance. You can discipline very assertively with an “I” message – “I won’t have that behaviour” and “I won’t have you treating people like that.”
4. Spend time with your children
I know that with mom and dad both working it’s difficult to do, and you’re under pressure, but we owe it to our children to spend time with them. When you come home from a hard day’s work it’s going to be an investment in your sanity if you first saturate your toddler with attention for half an hour before you do anything else. This makes him feel that he is important enough for you to put everything else aside just for him.
5. Let him fight his own battles
We have to give our children some responsibility. Of course we should be supportive, but don’t take all your toddler’s problems away from him. Don’t rush in to x everything. Figuring out solutions to his problems gives him the confidence to deal with life’s big challenges as he grows up.