Every parent desires to enhance their child’s confidence. A confident child embraces its strength while acknowledging its weaknesses. Countless studies have shown that confidence plays a major role in the later stages of life and, hence, such children tend to be more successful adults. They are also more likely to nurture stable relationships with other people and display greater emotional and physical health.
On the other hand, insecurity breeds irresolution and mistrust, which may impact almost every aspect of life. A self-doubting child will often shy away from socializing, taking up sports or other group activities, speaking up for themselves, and so on. If you want to give them a gentle push and pave the road toward a more courageous adult, try and implement the next seven strategies, which will go a long way in boosting their morale.
1. I’m Listening
Instead of lecturing them, hearing what your youngster has to say on a certain topic will go a long way in building their self-esteem. When you preach and scold a child, you are diminishing their sense of worth. In essence, what you’re doing is showing them their opinions don’t matter. Instead of encouraging them to think for themselves, which is a crucial element in building a sense of worth, you are teaching them that all they need to do is conform to your instructions and expectations, and later in life, to other people’s expectations. This doesn’t imply you should turn a blind eye on their misbehavior (if that’s the case) but issues an invitation for a fair exchange of opinions, and your willingness to include their suggestion as part of the solution to the problem at hand.
Failures hurt us deeply, no matter how old we are, even more when we’re young and lack coping abilities. Instead of weighing out the outcome of your child’s endeavor, praise the attempt itself. Life is a constant game of dusting yourself off and trying again. The sooner they learn it, the better. Praise even the smallest success or attempts and highlight the lessons learned from both.
2. I Believe (in) You
Nothing can compensate for the safety net parents provide. Your child must realize from its early stages of life that they can count on you no matter what. Trust is created when you believe in your child, it will learn how to have faith in their actions.
Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein, a psychologist and the author of Liking the Child You Love, emphasizes that “we must, in today’s world of instant attention that comes and goes when cell phones light up, empower our children to continually give the gift of self-esteem to themselves!” (Bernstein 2016) By choosing to be present for your child in a trustworthy manner continually, you are showing them they are worthy, and they will, in turn, treat themselves as such, thus strengthening their sense of self-confidence.
3. Not Yet
When your child gets frustrated or feels incompetent, you should explain to them that nobody can perform perfectly at every given moment – sometimes one just needs to wait for the things to ripen. Remind them what it was like when they learned how to walk and explain that beginnings are never easy, even after you grow up. Not only will this teach them patience, but they will also learn how to persevere and stay on track when the going gets tough.
A growth mindset is a wonderful approach to teaching your kids self-confidence by showing them they still need to learn certain skills before becoming capable of achieving something. As opposed to a fixed mindset that leaves little room for progress since it empowers an unchangeable learning curve, a growth mindset teaches them to learn the meaning of the word yet. If they realize there is something they can’t do, encourage them to always add “yet” at the end of the sentence. The outlook changes in the blink of an eye.
4. Resist the Urge to Interfere
As children grow, their friendships deepen, and so do the grounds for potential conflicts. They often fight, mock, or tease each other for no particular reason. These situations might seem like a good time for an adult to intervene – not exactly. This is probably one of the biggest mistakes a parent can make when it comes to building a child’s confidence.
You should try and encourage a child to speak up for themselves, provided there is no severe bullying involved. You are welcome to practice with them what they could say in certain situations. Once they are confident in what they want to say, support them to communicate that message to the other party. If they get used to you standing up for them, it will be all the more difficult for them to assert themselves without your support later on in life. Have in mind that, regardless of how successful communicator your child might be, the listener will not always be able or willing to meet your child’s request. That brings us to the next strategy.
5. How Would You Solve It?
Problem-solving is an important skill for children to develop. Not only does it help children approach a problem from different angles, but it also helps them not to get caught up in despair and hopelessness when faced with an obstacle.
Instead, they will focus on finding a solution. The most practical way is to let the child tell you what he or she thinks is the best way to solve a problem instead of you suggesting a solution straight away. Likewise, you should encourage games that promote critical thinking and systematic analysis, such as discussing hypothetical situations.
6. Inside Is What Matters
In this day and age, physical appearance often wins over personality qualities. Although it is always desirable to teach your child to be tidy and take care of their looks, you also have to stress that who they are is more important than how they look.
Being kind, generous, and compassionate instead of straining to achieve a physical ideal should be their priority. Kids in puberty can be extremely sensitive about their looks and that can hurt their confidence. If you teach them there are qualities beyond the visible, they will gain more confidence and will appreciate their worth on many different levels.
7. Role Modeling
Practice what you preach. You can’t expect your child to grow their confidence if all they see is your insecurity, fears, and hesitancy. Admittedly, it can be daunting, but your child should always see you’re giving your best. Additionally, if you’re too hard on yourself, too self-critical, and pessimistic, the child will follow in your footsteps. For this reason, it’s paramount that you work on building your confidence.
Never miss the opportunity to highlight how proud you are of your child, how amazing and unique they are. Over time, they will internalize your positive message and would not rely on others, media, bank account, etc., to define their value. They would walk through life with they head high able to tackle any opportunity or problem with equal confidence.
- Best Problem-Solving Games for Kids
- The Secret of Self-Control
- Childhood Conflicts – Why We Shouldn’t Interfere