Educating through trust: The great challenge for schools
Teachers and educators have the complicated task of fostering self-esteem in their students for satisfactory emotional development.
Trust is one of the most beautiful words in the dictionary, as it implies social integration with those around us (trusting them) and greater personal well-being (trusting our emotions, feelings and abilities). In fact, a lack of trust often leads to all kinds of problems at different times in our lives.
That is why it is essential to build solid pillars that are capable of sustaining everyone’s personal development, especially in terms of self-confidence. And one of the spaces where we must work to achieve that are schools.
Self-esteem leads to confidence
Before going on to assess how children’s confidence can be fostered in school environments, it should be noted that the bulk of the work must be done at home. And it is the parents (or guardians) who have to foster children’s self-esteem from the earliest ages.
As explained in a text by the Spanish Association of Pediatrics, “not only to those with high self-esteem more often feel good about themselves, but they also know what they are doing right or wrong; the opposite is true of those with low self-esteem. This can also be seen in the ability to communicate with others, share and participate in activities, face challenges, show empathy, be self-reliant, creative, enjoy achievement, be assertive, and be responsible.”
Self-esteem builds self-confidence and is an essential tool for coping with the various stages of life.
Working on confidence in families and school contexts
The association also highlights the options for working on children’s self-esteem. They do so by taking into account not only families, but also school situations. They provide some keys that are worth remembering, such as:
- Accept the child as they are, with all their strengths and weaknesses.
- Offer young ones positive thoughts (with words, gestures, etc.).
- Set aside time for exclusive attention.
- Recognize their efforts.
- Recognize their likes and interests.
- Recognize their ability to propose solutions to problems, even if it is a child’s own reasoning, of course.
- Rely on them to do daily tasks.
- Avoid comparisons with other people who do things better.
- Be realistic when evaluating their actions, either by congratulating or correcting.
- Encourage respect for others.
Meanwhile, psychologist and educator Celia Rodríguez also provides a series of tips on the Educapeques portal, dedicated to Preschool and Elementary Education. They are clearly aligned with those already covered. However, she uses them to show how children’s confidence can be developed both at home and at school.
- Believe in them.
- Nurture self-esteem by paying attention to their comments.
- Suggest challenges that are difficult but are achievable.
- Let the child face their daily problems.
- Develop the capacity for effort and persistence.
- Teach strategies for problem solving.
- Develop the child’s ability to be independent.
- Recognize when they have done something well.
- Criticize bad actions, not the person.
The major challenge for schools
As illustrated, not only are parents responsible for the emotional development of children, but the schools where they learn also represent an essential support structure for satisfactory and beneficial development.
This is precisely one of the main challenges that teachers and educators must face. After all, the work of schools is not only to foster students’ cognitive development, but also to help with emotional control. To better understand the task they perform, it is best to let them explain it themselves.
“The idea of self-confidence and self-esteem is part of the values of our ideology,” said Raquel González, principal at Colegio Dominicas La Laguna, Tenerife, when she explained how they work on this issue in the institution she directs: “In this vision, the most important part is a well-rounded education, based on three pillars: cognitive development for consolidated critical thinking with sustainable, reliable and mature arguments; psychomotor development, and emotional and self-esteem management. We want students to attain good cognitive levels but also well-rounded personal development.”
Emotional development of students
“The part of emotions, self-esteem and self-confidence is included in a Tutorial Action Plan that we implement from ages 3 to 16. In it, we deal with emotional control, either because they recognize the emotions of others or their own, and that provides the tools to foster self-confidence,” Raquel González noted before giving an example: “While with three-year-old we focus on self-awareness or acceptance, when they become teenagers we work on relationships with others, the types of relationships that exist, how to deal with rejection, frustration, and so forth.”
And how are these actions coordinated with parents so that everyone is working in the same direction? The principal at Colegio Dominicas La Laguna explains how they do this at their center: “At the meeting at the beginning of the school year, we explain to parents that there is a tutorial plan, what it is based on and the line that we are going to work on. When we deal with specific content, such as sexuality, for example, we send a note to families to inform them. And on other occasions we usually do a “parents’ school,” in which we address a topic and explain how we work on it in the classroom and how we believe they can provide support for it at home. In addition, the Guidance Department provides a document explaining the evolutionary phase their children are in and how they should support it.”
In short, the objective is none other than to prepare children to gradually “fly” on their own, without fear. All of the above is summed up perfectly by Francisco Javier González, educational director of Preschool and Elementary Education at Colegio Nuestra Señora de los Infantes, Toledo: “Development of self-confidence must start with our knowledge of ourselves. The same is true with the students. We must help them discover their strengths and potential, but also their weaknesses. We must provide learning situations adapted to their levels of development that promote success. And when the result is not as expected, instead of scolding them (much less in public), we must help them recognize the failure and refocus their responses. They also need to take on age-appropriate responsibilities. We have to provide them with clear and precise orders and instructions for the tasks they have to face. All this can be transferred to the home, to families. Both contexts must go hand in hand, also in this task of forming self-confident students.”