How to build self-confidence in a child
Raising self-confident, curious and increasingly independent children is usually the goal of all parents, including a stay at home moms or dads. It follows from these generalizations that transition from preschool or home, to kindergarten, is just one more step along childhood’s path towards independent adulthood. Ask your child’s opinion and elicit preferences and reasons about everything.
I like the idea of establishing lifelong healthy and other desirable habits at an early age, and suggest establishing an independent morning routine at the same time every day (stretch and exercise — yoga?! — breakfast, brush teeth, wash hands and face, comb hair, dress, put on shoes and socks, grab backpack with a snack or lunch in it).
Doing this so your child is ready to leave the house at the same early time every day will prepare your child in many ways: to be ready for the routine of school; to set circadian rhythms to the light/dark cycle; and, to allow time to learn to get it together to dress and be ready independently. S/he can acclimate to these independent habits without the urgency of being late to school. And you can be there to guide him/her.
So now s/he is ready every day to go out and do something. Let’s say s/he is completely ready to leave the house at 8:30 a.m. Five days a week. Where will you go?
Go to the library twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays. Get a library card in her/his name. Return Monday’s books every Friday. Stress that Friday’s books are for independent reading so that Parents can sleep later on the weekends while kids read or play quietly until 8 a.m. Teach telling time and/or mark an analog clock so your child learns when it is 8 a.m. This has the added benefit of teaching your child how to tell time, a useful thing to know for a kid on a kindergarten schedule.
Go to every museum you can find in your area.
Explore your natural world.
Follow every morning trip with a visit to the park, a picnic lunch there, and an opportunity to run, jump, climb, swing and play for two hours every day. Encourage independence and socializing with other kids at the park. Remember sunscreen.
Go home about 1:00 pm so you can spend an hour or so cleaning house and do laundry while your child plays independently or helps with chores.
Give your child household chores to do independently and with the goal of doing these without your oversight. Include emptying and cleaning her or his backpack. Note that choosing a backpack can be a real treat. Let her or him select one with features s/he needs, including room for sunscreen, water, lunch, jacket and sweatshirt, books and in case of loss or unexpected separation, ICE (in case of emergency) doctor and parental contact information.
Invite someone over at 4 pm for a play date about two times a week, and to stay as a dinner guest until dinner is over and it is time for the guest child to be taken home. Give children lots of water now. Vary your guest list. You never know which kids will introduce cool new ideas.
Dinner can be a nightly family event that everyone anticipates with pleasure. Make it be that way. What needs doing?! Have children set the table every night while you cook dinner and make tomorrow’s lunch. Show them that a lovely table setting improves the dining experience. Add a centerpiece/flowers. Be sure there is a pitcher of water and water glasses on the table. You want them well-hydrated throughout the day but not so much at night (so they don’t have to get up too often to visit the bathroom).
Have a lively dinner conversation. Practice conversation and table manners. Pretend Princess Kate or The Queen Mum is joining you: what kind of conversation would ensue?! What questions would s/he ask? How would her/his questions change if the President were there? Pretend!
After dinner, it is time to be dropping off any guest children at their own homes (or wait for pick up by their parents) — followed by bath time.
After bath time kids change into pajamas, adults clean up, and kids’ quiet play time begins.
Evening quiet time is a good time for writing, coloring, drawing, building, reading, writing in a journal, etc.
I would not and did not allow computer or television screens after dark because the light in the eyes after dark interferes with the quality of sleep.
At bedtime listen to your child recount the day’s activities chronologically. Being able to tell a story can be facilitated by using a template sometimes, to teach organized thinking and storytelling. An example: “First A happened, then B, and next C. Finally, X and Y happened. All together it was Z.”
Read a favorite book(s) at bedtime. I always saved Goodnight Moon as the last book, a signal our day is done, and tomorrow is another day.