Having a positive self-image and self-perception matters, especially in development of a child. High self-esteem and good perception are what helps them to be resilient and motivates them to keep pushing for their dreams.
How exactly do we teach health and positive self perception to kids? Kids are like sponges observing all that they see around them. From the influence of adults' behaviors like their own parents, teachers, siblings or even peer’s behaviors. If adults give room to trust and give growing opportunities for them to experience different things, this leads to a better esteem and confidence building in a child. But as adults somethings we forget the little things do matter. It is what shapes our personality and self perception.
I was reminded how my own personality and self-perception was influenced by my teachers. That seemed natural as they were the educators and an automatic role model. I was prompted to write about this experience after a family dinner conversation. My sister made a statement that the silliest thing that happened to her in school was when she was made a house captain by a teacher. She never considered herself to be overly athletic but she was an automatic choice to fill in the spot. This was not a democracy by the way. It was up to the teacher to pick one student to represent the entire school.
Liza’s experience being given responsibility started in first grade. On the second day of school, the 7 year old was given the task to be the class monitor. And this went on throughout high school. There was never a clear reason why she was chosen but the theory might have been that at 7 years old she was taller than most of her classmates and that made her more reliable and trustworthy. Purely a very superficial way to treat a child but shaped her esteem in a positive way.
In contrast to my experience of a child who was physically shorter in comparison to my peers and underweight as well. It was an assumption that I looked weak and not capable of leading. These were all decisions that were made for me by the teachers. Most things in my Malaysian girl experiences are led by teachers or some peer recommendation. Sadly it was totally based on social standing and popularity vote and since I had none of those, it was difficult to develop a healthy self perception.
One teacher however gave me a healthy sense of self. His loving and kind behavior has always been something that stuck in my mind and helped me navigate through difficult schooling situations. There is a reason why I enjoy and love singing so much .I attribute it all to my choir teacher, Mr. Khoo.
He taught me about resilience.
I didn’t make it to the choir on my first audition. After shamelessly begging, he gave me another chance and this time I made it. To be given a second chance is a big deal for a 9 year old girl. It showed that hard work and fighting for what you believe in pays off.
He taught me about empathy/listening
By him showing me that he was willing to give me another shot, it showed that some adults are willing to listen. I was compensated to be in a choir because I could sing not perceived that I can. It was an affirmation that I needed for my growth and self confidence.
On a slight funny note after all that “drama” of trying to get in the choir and rehearsing for months and we got into the finals of the School Choir Music Festival, I came down with a bad case of laryngitis and was not able to sing. Mr Khoo came up with a brilliant idea since one of the songs we were singing was called The Donkey Song, so he decided to put me in a donkey costume with a fellow choir member as the head and me the donkey’s behind. That was my debut with the school choir.
He taught me about problem solving.
Instead of leaving me behind he came up with a solution to include me with the team. What did that act mean to a child? That child felt included, that someone cared, thought enough to figure out a solution instead of brushing things off. He figured a way to include that child and taught other kids about cooperation. Each part of that donkey costume could NOT function without working together and being in sync. A lesson on inclusion and cooperation.
All that he has taught me was the core of building emotional intelligence.
Would really like to hear your story on how an adult’s reaction, compassion and decision to you as a child had a huge impact on your emotional development and self perception, developing your emotional intelligence. Comment down below.
Photo Credit : Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash