When I think about the happiest and most successful people I know, I realize that as different as they may be, they all share one common trait. They all present an air of self confidence. What this means is that they seem to be very comfortable with themselves and they are able to move from task to task without doubt or concern. While this comes in many different forms, there is no denying that fact that confidence is crucial to life long success and as well as personal self-worth.
Confidence and Kids
When children are young, they are eager to explore and understand their world. They are driven by their needs and as a result, are usually willing to take risks, in order to get what they want. This “confidence” they display is usually fostered by parents in a safe environment and therefore they don’t have to deal with any negative consequences for their behaviour. As they get older and into school, that safe environment starts to change, and depending on their experiences and interactions, so will their level of confidence.
We all want our kids to be confident, but sometimes its difficult to tell when a child isn’t feeling self-assured because quite often they are not able to articulate the feeling. So what can we do to help build confidence in our kids? Simply telling them to be confident is not helpful because confidence is a feeling that needs to be built over time. Below are 5 tips for how to continue building that feeling of confidence and self-assurance with your child.
1. Provide Experiences
It sounds obvious, but the fact of the matter is that the more experiences your child has, the more comfortable they will be dealing with a multitude of diverse situations. Quite often, lack of confidence can stem from being unsure about how to deal with an unknown situation. Providing unique and challenging experiences for you child will allow them to develop comfort and confidence when they are faced with new people, places, and problems. Create a sense of confidence within your child by avoiding the familiar from time to time, getting them out of their comfort zone, and providing them with opportunities for growth.
2. Give Praise
I’m not one to overly praise my children for every little thing they do. However, building them up and celebrating their accomplishments every now and then goes a long way to creating a sense of self confidence within your child. Most people feel validated and self-assured whenever they are recognized for the good things they do, and it is no different for children. In fact, I would argue that it is even more important for our kids to feel that sense of validation and to know people are proud of them so that they can continue to motivate themselves to accomplish great things.
3. Encourage Risks
A huge contributor to the development self-confidence is one’s ability and willingness to take risks. The idea of taking risks, whether it be social, interpersonal, or otherwise is easy in theory, but sometimes not so much in practice. Trying to encourage a child to take a risk that makes them uncomfortable or anxious can be next to impossible if they connect a negative consequence to the action. That being said, it is so important to continue to push our children to step out of their comfort zone and take risks that will benefit them. This is the only way to stop them from considering the worst case scenario and instead thinking about the positive outcomes of their actions. Every time they do something that was difficult or makes them nervous is another opportunity to see that the outcome is never as bad as they thought it would be.
4. Teach Resiliency
This is a tough one for most parents because our natural inclination is to protect our children when they are hurt or in trouble. However, giving them an opportunity to work themselves out of certain situations can help build a number of skills that contribute to positive self-confidence such as problem solving and conflict resolution. There is no hiding from the reality that they will be faced with challenging people and situations throughout their entire life. Allowing them to advocate for themselves or deal with negative emotions can help them learn to navigate those tough situations when they arise.
5. Avoid Criticism
There’s no doubt about it, our kids are going to make mistakes. Sometimes, it’s easy to let our emotions get the best of us when they do, which can result in us saying something critical or negative. While sometimes this is unavoidable simply because the mistake needs some sort of correcting, oftentimes added criticism can lead to increased guilt or a feeling of failure. This can sometimes manifest itself into a fear of failure or a fear of making mistakes, which directly leads to low self-esteem and confidence. Instead of criticizing, focus on the mistake and make efforts to correct it without adding extra guilt or shame. This will ultimately lead to them understanding that making mistakes is normal, and that they are more than capable of dealing with the consequences.