As parents, our main goals include the health and welfare of our children. We strive to make sure they have a healthy amount of self-esteem, happiness, security, and love. It takes a village to raise a child. It’s not just the parent, but the entire world, consisting of teachers, friends and strangers. Psychologist and author of 15 parenting books, Carl Pickhardt, says that “A kid who lacks confidence will be reluctant to try new or challenging things because they’re scared of failing or disappointing others.” Anything we teach our children must start with us. If we want to provide a healthy dosage of confidence, then we as parents, must also learn to have self-confidence. We cannot give what we don’t have.
Here are 10 things that parents do to raise confident children:
1. Acknowledge the effort they put into everything.
It’s important to recognize the things children do and encourage them to keep going. Even when something is not finished, allowing them to know it’s not failure, but a chance to do things differently, gives them the self-esteem and confidence needed to dismiss failing. Teach your child that failure is not negative. Failure is the ability to do something in a different manner in order to achieve a goal. Allow for them to express their frustration, but continue encouraging them to keep trying out different ways. For example, if they aren’t good at one sport, and they are frustrated, then try and find another sport for them.
2. Allow them to solve problems on their own.
As parents, we don’t want our children to struggle. But, it’s important to teach them how to problem solve and find answers to their own issues. They can ask for help, but ultimately it lies with them to figure out the best possible solution to their challenge, event, or work. Share with your child the things you know, and how you have solved those problems. In witnessing and hearing examples, they can determine the best course of action for themselves. Give them credit for tenacity and perseverance.
3. Endorse and support curiosity.
Parents who play with their children create a bond of love and respect. Allowing your child to explore the world around them is a gift to the soul. We live in times of push-button results. Technology is wonderful, but many children do not explore the natural world outdoors. It’s important to venture out of the comfort zone and show your child more than what can be easily found in a computer. Implement the desire to ask questions, to use the imagination, and find new ways of doing things. Author, E.E. Cummings, wrote, “Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
4. Teach your child the foundation for success.
Success is founded by the trials and errors of challenges. It’s vital to teach your child that he or she can work hard and have success. It’s also important to reward them when they accomplish things in school or at home. Their self-confidence increases to higher levels when they know that their parents are in full support of what they do. Raising a confident child with healthy self-worth means being realistic and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. They have to learn that not everything comes out great at all times, but in trying and persevering, they can reach any goal they want. They might not be good at one thing, but they can continue looking for other ways.
5. Participate in your child’s education.
It’s not just a matter of being in contact with teachers; children need to know that their parents are fully invested in their education. A child who knows that his parents are part of his education tends to work harder. Positive reinforcement comes when parents have study and reading time together. Helping them learn also becomes a time to spend together as a family. Children need discipline and routine. They need to know and feel that their parents care about their education and their future. They need to be rewarded for good grades. It’s important that they understand that “working” in their homework is like working in an office some day.
6. Give your child responsibilities.
Children need chores. They need to know that when they clean their rooms, or cut the grass, they feel good about themselves. Providing responsibilities for your child increases their worth. They know if they do these things, they get rewarded. And, it’s not about monetary payments. It’s about showing them that they need to care for their things. They need to cherish what they have, and home is the first place to start. It’s vital to discipline in order to raise a confident child. They will be exposed to positive and negative influences. Giving them responsibilities and having them follow through is a way of exposing them to accountability.
7. Help your child share his or her feelings.
It’s pivotal, as parents, to allow your child to show their feelings. If they are crying, telling them to stop adds anxiety and stress. Honor your child’s emotions, especially when they are trying to express them in a healthy manner with you. We all want to be heard. We all want to know that we matter. When a child feels hurt, we have an opportunity to show them that it’s okay and talk through it. It’s in those moments of verbalizing that confidence is created. We want them to verbalize and express the deepest parts of themselves. This is healthy.
8. Recognize and praise your child for any struggles and adversities .
Maureen D. Healy, shares her findings on PsychologyToday:
“Praise your child and not necessarily what they do. A common mistake in parenting is to solely focus on what your child does (i.e. plays violin, gets good grades) versus who your child is in this moment. Children grow confidence from feeling good about who they are on the inside and trusting whoever they are is good, capable, smart and able to face whatever life presents them (i.e. bully or a best friend).”
Failure teaches adversities and resilience. It’s not about winning, but about moving forward even through the difficult times.
9. Provide challenges for your child.
Children need constant stimulation in order to keep their brains working properly. When they are bored, they get in all sorts of trouble. Providing your children with challenges, projects and fun activities enriches them. They feel a sense of accomplishment and they are learning. Confidence comes through the act of doing and accomplishing. The more they do something, the better they feel about themselves. This is the same with sports, school projects, and hobbies. Encourage new opportunities to create and use their imagination. These are the building blocks for learning and succeeding as adults.
10. Do not judge or criticize their performance.
There is a difference between constructive criticism and encouraging your child’s performance.
Research psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University, Peggy Drexler PhD, says that, “The point isn’t to criticize children. But it’s to recognize that self-esteem really, truly comes as the result of achievement—in the classroom, on the field, at home—rather than false accomplishments. Instead of praising your child with ‘you’re so smart!’ be specific. Tell him, ‘You did a great job on your spelling quiz,’ or simply, ‘You tied your own shoes!’ Instead of telling him he’s the best on the team when you really don’t mean it, tell him you could tell he tried hard. Next time, he’ll try even harder—guaranteed.”
A child who has a loving and supportive home life can overcome just about anything. Raising confident children starts with being confident parents. Our children are always looking at us for examples. We become their mirrors from the time they can focus their eyesight on us. So, if you want to instill a healthy self-esteem, then it’s important to start with you as the parent.