Your baby has an emotional need to feel positive about himself. His positive view of himself develops during his first year. It gives him an optimistic attitude, so he’ll confidently approach new challenges.
Your baby’s self-confidence doesn’t make him reckless or unsafe; it just helps him believe in himself and his ability to do what’s required.
Your baby’s self-esteem puts a smile on his face because he enjoys life to the full; he takes many of the everyday hurdles that could create anxiety (such as dropping a toy or moving from milk to solids) in his stride because he thinks, “No problem, I can do it.”
Research suggests that your baby will take this positive outlook into adulthood.
Your baby feels good when he has:
• Confidence. He believes in his abilities. New learning experiences don’t worry him because he thinks he has the necessary abilities to cope. This keeps his motivation strong.
• High self-esteem. He values himself, which means he thinks, “I believe I’m a good person.” It’s not that he’s big-headed; it’s just that he’s proud of himself.
• Good self-image. Your baby’s happy with himself because others react positively to him. Your expression of delight in just being with him and your approval of his actions improves his self-image (the way he sees himself), because he feels you support him.
Ways to foster your baby’s self-esteem and confidence
There’s a lot you can do to help your baby feel great, from taking an interest in the things he does, to giving him lots of loving, physical contact. He’ll react well to praise and encouragement, so tell him how pleased you are with him.
1. Show enthusiasm. Clap your hands when you see your baby master something new. Make sure he sees you do this, as it lifts his self-esteem.
2. Make strong eye contact with him. As you smile, come down to his level or bring him up to yours so that he can look into your eyes and see the genuine love you have for him.
3. Calm him when he cries. Your efforts to comfort him when he’s upset make him feel good, even if he keeps crying. He benefits just from knowing you’re there for him.
4. Show him solutions. If your baby’s struggling with a difficult toy, demonstrate the solution. He’d rather reach it by himself, but it’s good to help him get there. Don’t expect him to do things that are beyond his abilities.
5. Play games that involve closeness and touch. Hold his hand in yours while reciting This Little Piggy, or tickle him during Incy, Wincy Spider. He loves the contact.