In a world full of uncertainty, chaos and instant gratification, raising a child that is confident enough in themselves is crucial. Self-esteem is the key to a happy and successful child and in turn, adult. My hope is that I raise my children with enough confidence that they are self-assertive and assure – with just the right amount of independence to tackle everyday life. I believe one of the most important traits you can instil in a child is confidence.
For a child to know they are worthy, you need to listen when they talk. Spend time genuinely listening to your child, ask how their day went and what they did. Often asking the kids how their day was at school all I’ll get in response is a one-word answer “Good.” or “Fine.”. Nine times out of ten when I prod a little bit further with a question like “Who did you sit next to in circle time” or “what did you do on the playground” the kids will open up and tell me so much more. Who they sat with, whether they shared their snack, what they learnt and who was off sick. By changing the question slightly so that it’s not so much of a broad question, and showing an interest, I’ll hear a full rundown of their day.
Demonstrate your love for your children both in words and actions. I tell my children countless times a day how much I love and adore them and reaffirm it with a cuddle or kiss. Next time you tell your child you love them and give them a kiss, watch their reaction. You’ll immediately notice their assurance. If they feel worthy of your love and affection, they will be assured and confident children. As a result, both of our children are incredibly loving and affectionate, to us and others. Fulfil your children’s need for love and a connection and your child will feel valued. Writing a little note to slip into their lunchboxes is a great way to remind your kids how much you love them and is a great confidence booster. Even if they might not be able to read it themselves, they will love and appreciate the note from Mommy more than what it actually says!
Remind your children of their strong points no matter how insignificant they may seem. Oli is amazingly kind and forgiving – even when his sister is walking all over him. When I can see he seems a bit doubtful or down, reminding him of all his amazing qualities instantly picks him up and increases / boosts his confidence.
In our home we live by the mantra – “Never give up”. It’s so easy to give up when a situation gets too hard – that’s something we noticed in Oli when he was younger and have been trying to stop ever since. Can’t draw a specific picture or do a particular physical exercise, he would tell us he can’t do it. Dyl sat him down and told him how important it was to never give up – it stuck. A few years ago, Dyl signed up for the 947 Cycle Challenge – a complete novice – and Oli coached him every step of the way with the mantra that had stuck with him ‘Never give up!”.
Teach them not to be too critical of themselves
They’re children, they’re not perfect. A lack of confidence often translates into a few behaviours, one of them being self-critical. Unrealistic expectations from us as parents will only lead to a child being insecure and critical of themselves and their abilities. Our kids are never going to excel at everything they do. Oli often panics when I suggest we draw a particular picture. “You draw first Mommy and then I’ll copy you”. He is so scared of failure and disappointing me or his teacher that he sometimes doesn’t even want to try. We’ve always said to him to just to do his best, and his best will always be good enough no matter what it is. Reminding him of this, I can slowly notice his confidence levels rise and he’ll pick up his pencil and start to draw. In today’s society such unnecessary pressure is put onto our children to excel. While they are so young, for me, the most important thing is to remove as much of this extra pressure as possible, and let them focus on being a child. Just do your best.
This one is tough, especially with two to three year olds who might throw a lot of tantrums. If we want our children to value and trust their own feelings and emotions, we need to show, as parents, how we respect their feelings. Easier said than done, right? If we dismiss their feelings, particularly the negative ones, what we’re doing is showing them that expressing that side of their self is not acceptable. Acknowledge their feelings so that when they’re older they feel they can be honest with you and themselves for how they’re feeling.
Be a present and unconditional parent
Show your children that no matter what mistakes or failures happen that you will always be there. This provides them with the confidence that no matter what happens, it’s okay and they have the unconditional love and support of us as parents. Be present, even if your time with your children is limited, it makes it that much more important. Let them know that when you’re with them, you are actually with them and they have all your attention so that they feel safe, valued and confident.
Raising a child with a healthy level of confidence, they will feel more valued and accepted, and more capable of doing any task at hand. They will also feel confident and be able to tackle everyday challenges. Tell your children you believe in them. For a child, just knowing their parents believe in them is often enough for them to believe in themselves. A confident child is undoubtedly a happy child – isn’t that what we all want our children to be – happy?