Assoc. Prof. Dr. Dilarom Demiralay
Disturbances in the development of self-image in early childhood can have various causes. First, these are violations of the interaction and communication of the child with a close adult. If the baby lacks an interested adult attitude addressed to him as a person, it will be necessary to organize special classes saturated with personality-oriented communication to enhance the child’s experience of his significance for others, strengthen his positive self-perception, develop self-image.
Corrective classes are conducted by the teacher individually, with each of the children separately, as well as in a group. During individual lessons, emphasis is placed on the personal, subjective manifestations of the child. The adult supports the kid’s initiatives, offers him a choice of activities, actions, and evaluates the child’s personal choice as significant, valuable for himself, emphasizing the child’s right to free will.
During classes, an adult talk with a child about friends, a favorite toy, about what the baby saw on a walk, thereby showing personal interest in the life and experiences of the child, showing that the child’s experiences, what happens to him, the events of his life, personal experience – all this is important for an adult.
In addition to conversation, correctional activities include the game of an adult with a child. Let’s look at the different types of corrective action.
Ball game. The lesson begins with the fact that the kid is invited to choose from a large basket of balls the ball that he likes best. After the child has chosen a certain ball, the adult praises him for his good choice: “What a beautiful ball you have chosen, well done,” and offers to play. For children of the second year of life, an easy task is offered: roll or throw the ball to each other. For children of the third year of life – roll the ball along a certain corridor of cubes or take turns throwing it into the basket.
As the child copes with the task, it should be complicated. For example, the corridor narrows, and the basket moves further and further away.
During the game, the adult praises the baby. Praise should refer not only to the specific actions of the child, but also to him as a person: “Well done, how clever you are. You definitely hit the basket.” If necessary, the baby should be encouraged, providing him with emotional support. “Look, you are getting better and better,” the adult says with a smile, affectionately hugging the child. Solving more and more difficult tasks, the kid has the opportunity to independently evaluate his progress, his progress in fulfilling the tasks of an adult, which expands and enriches his experience, as well as knowledge of his achievements.
Pyramid. An adult and a child jointly assemble a pyramid. For younger children, you can use the pyramids in the form of “Rooster” or “Bunny”, and for older children – “Castle Tower”. During the game, the adult gradually attracts the baby to an increasingly active task, until the child collects the pyramid completely on his own. At first, the adult himself collects the pyramid, and the baby only gives the rings. Then the adult starts, and the child continues. For a while, they act alternately. And then they switch roles: the child acts mainly, and the adult gives the rings and helps with difficulties.
An adult comment on the child’s actions, notes successes, progress in mastering actions, compares the child with his own level before the start of joint activities, when the baby did not yet know how to string rings on a pyramid.
Pictures stories. Children are offered various pictures depicting objects, animals, seasons. An adult talk about what is shown in the picture in a form accessible to the child. Similarly, children’s picture books with simple plots are used. From the story of an adult during classes, a transition is gradually made to the reproduction of the story by a child. Encouraging the baby, asking leading questions, supporting his initiative, the adult more and more involves the child in retelling the plots and describing the pictures, while remaining an attentive and interested listener. The child’s story is accompanied by praise from an adult, addressed to the specific successes of the baby and the personality.
For example, “How interesting you talked about the cat about how she catches the mouse.” “Well done! He showed all the pictures correctly, remembered all the animals that I told you about last time.”
Modeling and drawing. Of course, these two activities are not yet fully available to a small child. However, young children love to sculpt from plasticine and draw with crayons and paints.
An adult asks young children to help him mold a figure of a dog, a fox, a bear.
The kid enthusiastically sculpts paws, tail, ears. Older children can sculpt balls, balls, rings, etc. on their own. The situation turns into a game when what the kid made becomes doll food, and the figures molded together are placed in a toy fairy forest or zoo.
Similarly, drawing takes place in the form of a joint activity of an adult and a child, transient into play. Importance is attached to supporting the initiative of the baby, his activity, creativity. An adult notes the successes, originality, and aesthetic qualities of the products of children’s creativity, tries to open for the child an understanding of his new possibilities, the ability to create independently something new, interesting, meaningful in the eyes of other people.
A game. The adult organizes the child’s play with peers. Traditional games are used: ball, mothers and daughters, garage, building a house, etc.
An adult initiates the children’s play, supports their initiative actions to unfold the game plot, involves each child in the game process, emphasizes the contribution of each, draws the attention of children to the actions of partners, encourages the success of each child.
Walk. During a walk, an adult tells the children about the environment, gradually involving them in communication on cognitive and personally significant topics. An adult emphasizes his interest in the opinion of the child, the significance of his point of view, the value as a communication partner. In the course of communication, encourages the child to tell about what he observes during the walk, about the events of his life. For example, about where the children were in the summer, who they went to visit, who came to them, where else they would go, etc. This ability to see oneself in a time perspective is an important point in the development of self-awareness, self-image. The benevolent attention of an adult, his interest in the past, present and future of the child, the encouragement of the ability to relate events from the life of the child with a time perspective contributes to the formation of the child’s stable ideas about himself, the consolidation of his personality. For this purpose, it is useful to show the baby personal albums with photographs of the child, in which, by years, starting from infancy, the life and growing up of the baby were reflected.
Features of interaction during remedial classes.
Corrective lessons of an adult with a child include some general, basic points of interaction. During classes, an adult treats child affectionately, with a smile, makes tactile contact, often takes the child in his arms. As before (as in infancy), eye contact is important. When communicating with the baby, the adult chooses a position “at eye level”, taking the child in his arms or sitting next to him. To establish a trusting relationship with the child, an adult pays attention to the mood of the baby, his desires, feelings, calms and encourages upset children, and helps in eliminating discomfort.
During a joint game or lesson, an adult addresses the child by name, often uses affectionate words. When teaching a child object actions, age and individual characteristics should be considered.
Training is done in a soft form, without violence. For example, when teaching a child to swaddle a doll, start a car, build a high tower of blocks, an adult gently guides his movements with his hand, and then provides an opportunity to perform the action on his own, helping, if necessary, but not taking the initiative completely on himself.
An adult responds to any request of the baby for joint activities or help, and if it is impossible to carry them out calmly, in a friendly tone, explains the reason and asks to wait.
An adult provides children with independence in choosing toys, activities, partners in the game. If the kid does not want to join the game offered by adults, is not included in the lesson, the adult does not insist, does not blame the child. Children should be encouraged to express their thoughts, feelings, consider their mood, emotional state.
Of course, all these principles of interaction between adults and children should apply not only to the time of classes with the child, but also to all other situations and moments of relationships and interaction, in particular, those related to the daily routine.
When carrying out various regime procedures, adults carefully, warmly, affectionately treat the child. When dressing after sleep and preparing for a walk, do not forcibly stick the child’s hand into the sleeve, and the leg into tights, trying to dress the baby as soon as possible. An adult offers the child to get dressed, waits for the baby to take the initiative, for example, lends a hand, helping him and supporting his initiative, carefully and affectionately dresses the child. In the third year of life, children are more willing to show independence and adults should encourage them in this.
When carrying out routine procedures, adults should consider the individual characteristics of the child: temperament (they do not push the slow baby with perseverance), preferences (they do not force them to eat porridge that is healthy, but not loved by the child), they do not forcefully put to sleep, they are guided by the state of the child. Such adult behavior ensures that the child is “taken into account” and is oriented toward him as a subject in the system of child-adult relations.
Encouragements and reprimands
The second general point that should be highlighted in the relationship in the family and the preschool children’s institution is encouragement and censure. Just as in the first year of life, preference is given to rewards and praise.
Adults should much more often use encouragement, support for the child than censure and prohibition. Reprimand can only apply to specific actions of the baby and never to the child as a person. The failures of the baby in any activity are not fixed specifically by adults and on this basis no conclusion is made that degrades the dignity of the child. Failures and difficulties are, first, a signal to an adult about help, support, teaching the child, opening new opportunities for him. If the baby himself is emotionally acutely experiencing his failure, you can try to beat the situation that caused him in a playful, humorous way, extinguishing negative emotions. Then you should help the baby to cope with the task, first with an adult, and then on his own, as a positive experience will strengthen his confidence in himself, his abilities, and competence in interacting with the world.
Adults never resort to physical punishment or other negative disciplinary action that offends, frightens, or humiliates a child. For example, when a baby refuses to eat, go to the toilet, go to bed, an adult tries to gently persuade him, to translate unwanted actions into a playful form, and in case of failure, to give the baby the opportunity to be alone.
In the case when a child expresses obvious disobedience, goes into open conflict, interferes with other children or an adult, offends someone, you should calmly explain why his behavior is undesirable, you can put him on a chair separately from other children or take him to the next room. It is impossible at the same time to leave the child alone for a long time, to deprive him of his love and attention. After resolving the conflict, the adult should gently hug the baby, tell him about his love for him, express confidence that the unwanted action will not be repeated. It is helpful to discuss with the child the causes and consequences of his unwanted behavior, show ways to express their feelings and desires in a socially acceptable way.
The source of a child’s knowledge of himself is his individual experience and the experience of communication and interaction with adults.
If in diagnostic tests with a mirror the child is not interested in his reflection, turns away from the mirror, shows negative emotions, an urgent correction of his communication with close adults is required, which, first, consists in establishing situational emotional-personal communication that is obviously defective in the first year of life.
In corrective work, one should, as it were, go back and repeat or re-build the leading activity and the corresponding form of communication of the previous age period. In communication and interaction with the child, the exchange of positive emotions, tactile contacts, expression of love, tenderness, attitude towards the baby as a unique personality, its values for adults should be activated. Such behavior of adults will strengthen the positive self-perception of the child, which was not sufficiently formed in the first year of life, his general positive self-esteem, the basis for the development of his self-image.
Distortions in the formation of the image of oneself in early childhood can also be caused by an overly long, protracted period of emotional and personal communication. At an early age, the main form of communication between a child and an adult should be practical cooperation, and actions with objects should be the leading activity.
If a child is alone in a family and there are a lot of adults around who “do not have a soul” in him, it often turns out that situational-personal, emotional communication predominates both in the second and third years of life. The kid is protected from independent actions, they strive to do everything for him, not allowing the slightest displeasure, the failure of the child in anything.
This leads to the fact that the leading activity is not formed fully and in a timely manner, the child’s ideas about their capabilities, abilities, skills do not develop, the development of the self-image is delayed.
Corrective work in case of “stuck” in emotional-personal communication should consist primarily in preparing the conditions for advancing objective actions to the first place in the child’s mental development. To do this, an adult, during emotional, situational-personal communication, must switch the child’s attention from himself to the object: draw the child’s attention to a toy, book, household items, etc., interest the child, demonstrate the capabilities and features of the object, show how it is possible to play, act and invite the child to play together. At first, it is advisable to perform actions with objects together with the child, helping him to coordinate movements, to perform actions correctly. Joint actions and simple games with objects should be cyclical, partners follow the order, the adult adapts to the child, giving him the opportunity to be a leader. All independent actions of the baby must be supported and approved by an adult. The kid should be encouraged for showing initiative in the game or inviting an adult to joint actions and practical cooperation (for example, make a bed with an adult, help wash the dishes, wipe the dust, water the flowers, etc.)
Development of the child’s idea of himself as an active principle, the subject of activity.
When cooperation between an adult and a child has already been established and the baby has mastered the simplest actions with objects (he knows how to cradle a doll, roll cars, a ball, string rings on a pyramid, build a tower of cubes, etc.), you should move on to mastering complex culturally, socially fixed ways of using items. Here, an adult becomes a role model and the main connoisseur of the child’s achievements. An adult demonstrates to the baby the rules for handling household items, various actions with toys, simple story games, introduces children’s books, teaches them to draw, sculpt, etc. All these actions of an adult allow you to expand the individual experience of the baby, try yourself in new actions, learn about your capabilities, abilities, and achievements.
Remaining the main connoisseur of the child’s skills, an adult often expresses his approval to him, praises him for achievements, and helps with difficulties. An adult should provide the child with the opportunity to feel like an active principle, a subject of various actions, which will serve to form a new experience of experiencing confidence in the possibilities of mastering something new, competence in the world around him.
The desire of the child to imitate the actions of an adult should be encouraged. If the baby wants to wash the dishes, you can give him an unbreakable plate, a cup, put him on a chair in front of the sink, showing him how to wash dishes with a brush, sponge, praising and guiding his actions. Adults should encourage the child’s desire for self-care: give them the opportunity to dress themselves, wash themselves, fasten buttons or zippers, put on mittens, etc.
To develop a child’s knowledge of himself, productive activities should be specially organized at an early age, such as drawing with a pencil, brush, hand, fingers, crayons, modeling from plasticine, clay, dough, appliqué, writing stories, fairy tales. Musical lessons are also necessary (singing, listening to records, playing musical instruments, dancing), which stimulate the expression of feelings, moods through facial expressions, gestures, movements, and speech.
It is useful to support the child’s desire for original problem solving, unusual use of objects, creative games, and fantasies, writing poems and fairy tales, and reproducing familiar stories in the game.
Participation in creative activities will contribute to the development of the child’s idea of himself as a creative principle, not only imitating adults, but also generating something new, socially approved, and meaningful for other people.
When organizing the subject activity of the child and during practical cooperation with him, conditions should be created for the identification and registration of a specific self-assessment. At an early age, against the background of a general positive self-esteem that has developed under the influence of emotional situational-personal communication between an adult and a child, a specific self-esteem gradually begins to take shape, relating to individual situations, actions, achievements of the baby, and not to his personality (as happens in the case of overall self-esteem).
With the accumulation of individual experience, the development of new actions, as well as the assessment of an adult, the baby develops an idea of achievements, successes, specific skills, and abilities. Since an adult is at first the main connoisseur of the achievements of the baby, how the formation of a specific self-esteem will largely depend on his behavior.
As we have already said, praise, permission, positive assessments should prevail over censure, prohibition, negative assessments addressed to the child. With properly organized adequate communication and interaction, adult assessment plays an important role in the activity of the baby, orienting the child regarding the results achieved. When evaluating the actions of the child, an adult, if necessary, can use negative assessments of individual, specific actions of the child, however, such an assessment must be accompanied by a positive assessment of the child as a person. For example, an adult says: “You put the picture of the blocks wrong, but I’m sure if you try, you will get it right, because you are very diligent and already know a lot.”
Praise for failure is unacceptable. This negatively affects the formation of the child’s self-esteem, distorts the criteria for success, and disorients the child. The assessment of an adult should be adequate to the achievements of the child, the result obtained by him. The assessment should be sufficiently detailed. So, evaluating the baby, the adult gives explanations that set the child the criteria for success and failure in each case. At the same time, the adult looks at how the child evaluates himself, doing it on his own, without waiting for the adult’s assessment. With an adequate experience of cooperation with an adult and a developed objective activity, a baby in the third year of life does not strive only for a positive assessment of an adult, but independently, in accordance with an achievement or failure, experiences his own success in a specific action. This contributes to the formation of independence, self-control in the implementation of subject-practical activities.
The formation of a specific self-esteem is completed at the next age stage, in preschool childhood, and does not detract from the importance of general self-esteem. a positive attitude towards oneself as a person significant for other people.
Communication with peers
Along with the development of individual experience and communication with adults in an age-appropriate form, it is necessary to specifically highlight the communication and interaction of the child with peers as another factor in the formation of the self-image. Communication with peers contributes to the development of the baby’s ideas about his physical qualities, physical capabilities, and in the third year of life contributes to the child’s experience of himself as a creative principle, new opportunities, abilities that are significant for other people.
Without communication with peers, the formation of a child’s self-image at an early age will not be complete and adequate. Therefore, adults should create conditions for the development of communication between the child and peers. To do this, first, it is necessary to form in children a positive attitude towards peers. By their own behavior, adults demonstrate a respectful attitude towards all children. They draw the attention of kids to the emotional states of each other, encourage manifestations of sympathy, empathy for another child. They organize joint games for children, teaching them to coordinate their actions, consider the desires of each other. Adults also strive to help children resolve emerging conflicts without violence, introduce the principle of priority, switch attention, and emphasize the merits of each child.
You should never compare a child with peers when assessing his skills, abilities, achievements. Adults, who often use the technique of comparing a baby with other children, thereby belittle and even humiliate either his dignity or the dignity of a peer. You can compare the achievements of the baby only with his own achievements, showing how he has advanced, what he already knows, what else he will learn. In this way, adults create a perspective for the positive development of the child and reinforce the image of themselves as a developing whole.
The main lines of formation and correction of the image of oneself at an early age are: the organization of communication with adults, peers, as well as the promotion of subject-practical actions as the leading activity. When progress has been made in correctional work along all three lines, the following learning situations should be included in interaction, communication with an adult.
Developing an idea of your capabilities, abilities
Adults create conditions for the child to master complex movements, naming them, performing them first together with the baby, and then the child independently at the request of an adult. For example, they organize outdoor games with various types of movements: walking, bouncing, squatting, jumping, running, etc. It is useful to involve the baby in music activities that include simple dance moves.
The same types of movements are practiced in simple physical education classes. The child is taught to perform simple exercises and at the same time name what he is doing. The movements being learned can be repeated with dolls, in games with adults or other children, they can be offered to perform a variety of actions. For example, the leader shows a movement, calls it and all the participants in the game repeat the movement, the one who makes a mistake becomes the leader.
From time to time, the child is brought to the mirror to examine parts of the body, details of clothing are usually not visible, correlating the reflection in the mirror with reality. There is no need to be afraid that a child who enjoys looking at himself in the mirror, plays with his reflection, “flaunts” in new clothes, will grow up narcissistic and spoiled. Psychologically, there is no connection between selfishness and looking at oneself in a mirror at an early age.
But adults who do not like to look at themselves in the mirror, avoid their own reflection, often turn out to be insecure, have underestimated inadequate self-image, low self-esteem.
In addition to recognizing yourself as a child in the mirror, you should practice recognizing yourself and others in photographs. The kid is shown where mom, dad, grandmother, (caregiver, familiar adult), other children, and then asked to do it on their own. It is especially interesting for a child to recognize himself in photographs at a younger age, compare with the present moment, observe changes in his appearance, physical “I”.
The child’s developing sense of ownership should be considered. Understanding by the baby that he has his own place at the table, his own play area, his own bed, cup, clothes, etc. testify to the development of self-consciousness, ideas about oneself as the owner of certain things. This is not a manifestation of greed and selfishness, as such behavior of a child is sometimes interpreted by adults, but the development of his knowledge of himself. Therefore, the child’s right to property should be respected and at the same time taught to respect the similar rights of other people.
Adults should encourage the child to show empathy for the emotional states of others. Praise the baby for trying to comfort a crying, upset person, tell me how best to do it (offer a toy to a crying baby, treat an upset sister with sweets, hug and kiss a tired grandmother, a close adult).
Similarly, a child develops the ability to share positive emotions with another person: joy, admiration, a sense of pleasure, etc.
Adults contribute to the manifestation in children of different types of behavior in accordance with gender identification. As a rule, adults express more approval, more encourage behavior corresponding to the sex of the child. So, girls are praised when they play with dolls, they help their mother with housework (washing clothes, cleaning the room, preparing dinner, etc.), they express approval when the boys play in a construction site, a garage, they help their grandmother carry a heavy bag, …. Sex stereotypes of behavior are enshrined in culture. For example, in fairy tales, heroines often must be rescued from trouble, and male characters must overcome obstacles and act as a savior. Reading fairy tales, watching cartoons, adults introduce children to different gender role behavior of characters. In everyday life, parents and educators also emphasize the difference between the behavior of boys and girls, gradually forming in children a system of values accepted in society, the family, and the sexual identity of the child is formed.
Adults should emphasize the individual differences between children: some boys like to play ball, while others like to build a city out of sand; one child thinks one thing is right, and another – another. Understanding one’s difference from others, the right to this difference, as well as the recognition of similar rights of another person, is an important aspect of the development of the social “I” of the child, the foundations of tolerance, which are laid in early childhood.
The crisis of the third year of life requires special attention. The behavior of the baby during this period is characterized by obstinacy, uncontrollability, self-will. All these are not pathological manifestations of the emerging personality of the child, but symptoms of a tense, crisis moment of development. At this stage, the child’s sense of his own “I” is very sharply and vividly experienced by him both in interaction with the objective world and in social relationships.
There is joy for achievements, which are now evaluated not only by adults, but also independently by a child. Giving the child independence, supporting him to experience his abilities, opportunities, achievements, adults will facilitate the course of the crisis period, create adequate conditions for the development of the child’s self-awareness.