Supporting the self esteem of the child: The Swedish way

The most important idea of the ProChil project is learning from each other, listening to each other, getting inspiration from abroad. As the systems of Early Childhood Education and Care varies in different EU countries, there are different methods, different ways to deal with problems. In the project each of the partners deals with a specific topic. In March, during our stay in Antwerpen we had the possibility to discuss these topics. Johanna and Sofie from Brudhammars Förskola, our  Swedish partners, held a workshop about addressing special educational situations. 

In a short series of article we will bring you information on the following topics:

  • Adaptation to ECEC
  • Self esteem of the child
  • Integration of children with another mother tongue
  • Working with children from families with different social problems
  • Working with children with special needs

Self esteem of the child

In order for the children to feel good mentally, the team in Brudhammar Förskola work a lot with self esteem in their classes. It is important that the children believe in themselves and their own ability is the foundation for self esteem. The teachers try to emphasize that the children are good for what they are – not for what they do. Of course, they also praise the children’s progress, but there is a danger of getting stuck in doing and forgetting the being.

What the child does build their self confidence, but unfortunately, self confidence does not build self esteem. On the other hand, self esteem builds self conidence.

That the children are confident in who they are and that they have a value in being themselves is important. If they understand their own value they dare to choose their own feelings, stand up for themselves and learn their own limits.

Building self esteem from the point of view of the teacher is about seeing the child exactly where it is. It is important to always make the child feel welcome and make them understand that they being there is important to me and to the group. It’s not their action that makes them important. It is very important for the teachers to every day greet and see each child, because there is nothing worse for a child than to be invisible. Being able to name all children is also important because it is a big part of my identity is in the name.

It’s not easy to build self esteem because all you do as a teacher must come from the heart and the children have to believe it and feel that it is true or else their self esteem can be erased. A child with low self esteem will need confirmation in everything, they do not think they have any value. These children can have trouble with friends as they get hurt easily and turn it to themselves. They can also completely adapt to what friends say and thus erase some of their identity. These children also find it difficult to set limits, making them easily utilized in order to gain a value and to be loved.

In Brudhammar Förskola the teachers also work a lot with emotions so that children can understand and get words for what they feel, why they feel like they are doing and what the friends do to awaken those feelings. Much in this work is about talking with the children, listening to what they say, answering questions and raising thoughts. It’s also about trying to understand why the friends responded like they did and being able to talk to the friend. To help the children find words, it is important to be present where the children are. Be close and try to translate what the children say to each other so they can easily understand each other.

It is important for the children to have descriptive words, words that explain how they feel. It’s also important to inform the children that all feelings are allowed, it´s the first step to not repressing your emotions as an adult.

To put my emotions into words makes me as a child able to get my friends and teachers to understand how I feel and eventually why. It also makes it easier for the children to play because they understand each other better. If the children can explain how they feel and the receiving child can understand how it feels, the children have easier to create a consensus and the playing can go on.