Watching children in their element in a play date or playground you quickly realize that children instinctively know a child with confidence. They make eye contact, will introduce themselves, are not afraid of their own imagination and are easily liked by the others. These children quickly become the leaders of the group with others following to see what adventures lie ahead. This child may not be the tallest, prettiest or may even have a physical handicap but with confidence as their main ally, they quickly set themselves apart.
Most children, even though the confident child may be different than them, will look past their differences and see the beauty that emanates from their fabulous little personality and confidence. Not every child will be the leader of the pack, but confidence even in a quiet more reserved child can be a lifelong ally. Not only with friends and peers but with careers and self-image as well. But how do we as parents encourage confidence?
1. The value of consistency
Confidence starts at home. When a child knows what to expect from
Keeping a basic routine such as bedtimes, homework times and free time play will create not only an expectation but a sense of understanding between you and your child. With this consistency, you create an environment that lets your child feel more secure because they are having their basic needs such as sleep, eating work and play time managed. With security at home, they will feel more comfortable to take on the world outside.
2. Encourage participation rather than just winning
Anyone who has had a child in sports has seen it. A parent is yelling at their child or “coaching” them with tips after a loss on the court or field. Instead of focusing on the win or loss, take time to acknowledge how well they did and how much they supported the team or focused on their effort. Knowing that they have a supportive cheerleader cheering for their effort rather than win makes them strive to do their best- both on and off the field.
3. Let them be their own problem solvers
Making exceptions for your child can hinder their confidence even when it’s with the best intentions.
It is a fact- unless it is programming your phone or IPAD-you can probably do most things better than your child. But when your child needs help with a problem with homework, cooking something, or are having a tough time building their latest Lego creation pull back.
As easy as it is to for you to just do a task for them, you are taking away a moment for them to develop their confidence in themselves. Instead, sit with your child and talk through the problem. Strategize with them and lead them down the path to the answer. Give them kudos and atta boys all around when they figure it out and its a major win in the confidence department.
4. Lessons of failure- mistakes are a good thing
One of the biggest enemies of confidence is fear. When someone is discouraged or fearful, they will be reluctant to venture out of their shell to try again.
No one likes to fail. But if we embrace
I usually get an eye roll at this point, but I like to remind them that each day is progress if you keep at it. Teaching your children it is ok to fail, and it is just a part of the path to success, will give them the confidence to try again.
5. Practice makes Perfect
Children often get discouraged when they see someone “better” them at something. Watching their favorite sports player hit a home run, slam dunk off the rim, or play an instrument without a mistake while they struggle to make contact with the ball, make a basket or play a tune can be a little disheartening. When its peers it can be even worse.
Focusing on small goals rather than the end result will keep their confidence going. Finding one area that they may be struggling with teaches them not only the ability to focus but makes it small manageable bites. Once they can start checking off areas in improvement, they will see the results they want. Teaching them practice creates improvement is an invaluable skill both on and off the court.
6. Teach them who you are and your strengths (and weaknesses!)
Examples of accomplishments are what most children see and strive for when they are learning something new. Sometimes something that may simple to us can be a great learning lesson for them. Teaching your child a skill you have makes them feel important in your life. My children love to draw and paint with me. Giving them encouragement and kudos when they make something awesome has not only boosts the moral but creates fun-filled afternoon and lasting memories.
Also learning something new with your child can set a baseline for both and not only creates bonding time that is invaluable to you and your child. See here for some fun ideas. And, depending on what it is, this can show your child you too have a learning curve to overcome!
7. Lessons of a skinned knee
This is a tough one for many mamas. Our inner instinct is to protect our little ones. But believe it or not, it is ok for them to fall. It is ok for them to skin their knee once in a while. Let them. And when they fall, wait for them to ask for help.
My street is a cul de sac and the kids on the street love riding bikes up and down the road. In the beginning, my neighbors would try to rush to my kids when they fell over on their bikes. Each time I would tell them to stop and wait. My kids would check their damage,
Several of my neighbors would marvel comment, “Do they even feel pain?”
My response would always be, “They will let me know if it serious.”
A child takes cues on what they should be afraid of. Don’t let your fears be theirs without reason. A baby bird would never fly if they were always scared of hitting the ground. Put yourself in their shoes. You just fell and your mother is rushing to you as if there was a major threat to them. Even as an adult, if I had someone fearfully bolting toward me I would be scared!
If children are truly hurt, they will cry or yell to you naturally. It also helps a parent know too when it is serious. My kids if they are crying you better believe I am running like lightning to them- because I know they are hurt. So breathe mama. Let them pick themselves up and ask if they are ok rather than letting your fears turn into theirs.
8. appreciate the effort and give positive feedback- not critical feedback
I had a teacher that would tell me I wasn’t good at math. She wasn’t pleasant about it and put me down in front of the class about it. I struggled up until my last class in college with it. And guess what? I am still hesitant doing something without a calculator because of my lack of confidence with it. Believe it or not, I did get better and know I am not horrible at it, but still to this day its ingrained in me. Because I was told as a child by this teacher, I was.
With positive feedback does not be all flowers and sunshine. My mother had an infamous saying, “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.”
When giving feedback both good and bad you have to take a step back as a parent. Children learning just like we just did. If someone told you how bad you were at something you would start to believe it. Words are powerful and can break confidence faster than you can blink.
Be positive and encouraging when approaching a child with feedback. Instead of focusing on what they did wrong ask them if they need help. Knowing they have you to guide them will give them to try again.
9. Encourage courage- let them try new things
The more exposure a child has to new experiences when they are young the more they will be willing to venture out and try new things when they are older. From swinging a bat, seeing a new city, to tasting a new food the world becomes a little less scary with experience. The fear of the unknown can daunting but learning in a positive environment and with a sprinkle of encouragement are excellent building blocks for the confidence to go out in the world someday.
10. Be the authority by being a guide and leader
Remember that the world is a lot newer to them than it is to us. That is why children need us to guide them through every phase of their life. When we are harsh or limiting, we take away valuable lessons for them to learn we are keeping them from gaining confidence. Encourage them to be themselves but to also take a step from time to time in a new direction. Knowing they are not alone when they stumble the world, but it’s all part of growing up they will realize its ok to take another step. With that confidence, the child who once hid behind you will be ready to say hello to the new or unexpected.Follow my blog with Bloglovin