Diane taught this strategy to me, and I love it so much, I'm going to take a stab at sharing it with you. It's a gold standard strategy – one of the most useful tools to have in your toolbox to improve your child's self-esteem.
What Are You Assuming?
When our kids are not following directions, we tend to jump to the conclusion that they are being disrespectful or disobedient. But more often than not, it's not actually true. And that damages their self-esteem. When you start with the assumption that your child is trying hard and wants to do his or her best, it actually helps your child to do her best!
We call this positive parenting strategy ABI – Assume Best Intention.
Think about how hard it can be for your kids to know what they're supposed to do, know what they “should” be able to do, to see their friends and siblings doing what's expected, and not be able to do it, themselves. Seriously, that is incredibly frustrating for them! And when they feel like they're disappointing us on top of it, it doesn't exactly help to improve their self-esteem.
The Difference a Change in Perspective Can Make
When you start with this perspective, you are less likely to jump on little mistakes and more likely to acknowledge when things are harder than they seem like they should be. That alone will help improve self-esteem. It goes a long way to avoiding major upsets, too, because very often our kids' meltdowns come from feeling misunderstood. It also gives you a different perspective to approach problem-solving.
So when your child isn't listening, or following directions, or is so easily distracted that you want to pull your hair out, remind yourself that it is likely not a case of “willful disobedience.” Assume that your child is trying her best and improve your child's self-esteem as you change the way you approach situations that are really frustrating – for everyone.