Developing a Sense of Competence

Developing a Sense of Competence

Written by Natascha Crandall, PhD. - Educational Curriculum Consultant


The preschool years are a time when young children are learning to do more and more on their own. They truly value their independence and are seeking opportunities to exhibit it.

A sense of competence gained early will enable individuals to keep striving to do more, and this invariably leads one to accomplish more. Thus, it is a caretaker’s responsibility to expose children to situations where they can gain competence and thus develop a belief in their own capabilities. By reminding children that they are capable of accomplishing anything they set their mind to, it offers the support they need when tasks require more work and sustained effort. While children should be encouraged to ask for help when needed, caretakers can aid in the development of their competence by helping only when necessary and allowing the child to complete much of the task on their own.

Beliefs about one’s competence that are established early on will foster more competencies and the confidence gained will help bolster them through the inevitable ups and downs that life throws at all of us. We want children to discover how empowering it is to do things for themselves and follow their natural instincts to be independent. As we encourage our children grow and learn, it’s also okay to show our own frustration with tasks and model how we overcome them in the end. After all, caregivers are children’s first teachers and they truly watch everything we do!

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