We all want it for our children; for them to be confident, assertive and self-assured. Confident individuals are motivated, hard-working and have a balanced approach to life. We’d be beaming with pride to see our children exude these qualities but how do we get them there. It can’t be rocket science but it does take a few conscious strategies on our part as parents. Our kids form their self-image and sense of self majorly from the feedback they receive from us. So we surely play a crucial role in building our children’s self-esteem
Confident kids are better equipped to handle peer pressure and manage their frustrations better. Most of all they feel capable and trust their abilities to face obstacles that crop up. Simply praising our child on repeat won’t get them there. Here are some practical and sure-shot ways to build your child’s confidence.
Give Them Unconditional Love: We start with what is in our control the most. Our love for our children. Love them and show them you love them, no matter what. Of course, love comes easily when our children are on their best behaviour or have bagged achievements. But it is just as important we let them know we love them even when they are at their worst. They are tiny humans, they are bound to make poor choices, mistakes or fret over what seems insignificant to us adults. Avoid shaming or over criticizing. Embrace them instead. This way they’ll be more willing to try tasks they might fail at and attempt to master skills that are new to them, knowing that you have their back, always.
Lead by Example: Don’t worry they aren’t listening to you but know they are always watching you. We are our child’s first role model. They learn most of their behaviour and reactions from modelling us. How do you approach a new situation? How do you handle a failure? Fake it till you make it if you have to. Be conscious of your own self-esteem and confidence. And when your children see you confident in your abilities and decisions, they will learn to trust their own.
Give Them Tasks They Can Do: When children complete a task, they feel a sense of accomplishment. Instead of giving them tasks, you are sure they are bound to fail or struggle with, (like a 25 piece puzzle to a 3-year-old to start with), give them something you know they can complete independently. If they are learning a new skill, be there to guide them and help them. Also, involve them in household chores. No matter their age, children can help in their own way. Setting a table, clearing their toys or sorting out their laundry. Having them help with chores makes children feel like they are contributing. It makes them feel needed and that they are being responsible, all little feelings that can lead to improving confidence.
Don’t Sweat the Mistakes: Children are bound to make mistakes or fail at a task. It’s your reaction that’ll shape their attitude towards failure. They must learn to see them as stepping stones instead of a futile attempt or that it was no good having tried. If we react harshly when they fail at something, they are less likely to try again or attempt something new. Instead, when we let them know that failing and making mistakes is a part of learning and a work in progress, they are more likely to feel encouraged to try again and not shy away from exploring a new situation.
Praise their Effort: Endless praise might sound encouraging and positive but it won’t do much good for our children. For praise to be effective, we must learn to praise their effort. A generic “good job” doesn’t really do that. When we praise effort, our children are more likely to understand that working on something is what matters. So they are more likely to persevere, regardless of the outcome or achievement. Instead of the standard, “you’re so smart” or an outright exaggeration, “this is the best drawing I’ve ever seen” point out their efforts. Eg: When they bring you a drawing they’ve made, point out your appreciation for the colours they’ve used. Encourage and applaud their effort especially when they try something new.
Allow them to Fail: As parents, we can’t help but want to protect our children, but we can let them bloom into confident little beings only we allow them to explore. We can’t and mustn’t stop them from failing. Our job is to help them overcome the obstacles and not to take the obstacles out of their way. Where would the sense of accomplishment come from then?. Failures are a part of life, the sooner our children understand that the better. Maybe they won’t make it to the school soccer team or win the star student of the month, what they need to learn is that failure isn’t the end. With experience, they will begin to trust their ability to manage disappointments and feel confident to try out something new without worrying about the outcome. Let them experience the emotions and understand that feeling sad, or anxious is just as normal as feeling happy or excited. Of course, no better way to teach them this fact of life than by being a sport while handling failure yourself.
Allow them to Make a Few Decisions: If children had their way, they’d love to make all the decisions. Chocolate cookies for breakfast and no limits on screen time would probably be on top of their list. But we can’t let them have that. However, we can help them feel empowered and thereby improve their confidence by making them feel like they have a say in some decisions. Offer them a choice, so they can decide. This way, you pick the choices, they make the decisions. Of course, there will still be certain decisions where the power lies solely with you. Allowing children to make a few decisions makes them feel like their opinion and say matters. This helps children trust their decisions and build their confidence.
Help them Develop their Interests: First, let them experiment and explore a lot of interests. This is the best way to find out their talents and what they are passionate about. Once you’ve identified that, help them take their interests further. It could be anything from a sport, to playing an instrument to learning about countries or knowing the names of sea creatures. Help them nurture their interests. When they develop expertise in a certain field, they also feel like they have something that sets them apart, in a good way. They’ll want to display their skill to their peers and friends. This is a great confidence-building exercise.
Encourage Problem-solving: Involve them in opinions and advice. Make them feel valued and important. It’s easy for you to intervene and offer them the solutions but don’t do all the hard work for them. We would be robbing them of the opportunity to learn and grow. Let them handle age-appropriate problematic situations. When you trust them to have the ability to come up with solutions to their problems they will begin to trust their skills.
If you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, it’s okay. You don’t have to follow every suggestion here, but you could pick a few, to begin with. Every little step we take in nurturing our children’s abilities makes a big difference in their self-esteem and how they view themselves. Having a confident child will make your job as a parent easier. You will help your child blossom into a confident person who can face adversity and navigate the road ahead taking the hurdles they face, in their stride.