Building Confidence In Our ChildrenJan 11, 2022
Last week’s newsletter was about gaining and learning from challenging times. This week, I wanted to speak (or is it “write”?) about how we can practically help ourselves and our children get through those hard times. Ok, how do we do that?
By helping our children develop confidence. Ok, and how do we do that?!
We raise confident children by giving them opportunities to succeed and to sometimes, fail. Confidence is a state of mind - a positive perception of ourselves, having faith in ourselves. Confident children believe in themselves and are able to face new challenges without fear of failure holding them back. Confidence is developed by how we were brought up and how we’ve been taught by our parents to think about ourselves.
In many ways, parenting is easier with younger children. As parents of young children, our job is to be their fixers, protectors and social secretaries. We block the stairs so they can’t fall and childproof the house so they can’t get under the sink. We call their teachers if they don’t like their seat, and make them surprise parties so they’re extra happy on their birthday. We are ready at all times to put that band-aid on and fix their “boo-boos.”
But at some point, our job as parents change. And it’s often without warning! This can be challenging because no one is there to tell you when your role as parent should begin to evolve. There is no alarm on our phone, or calendar alert. There isn’t even an exact age because it is different for every child. Also, it’s a gradual evolution, not an overnight event. Instead of constant fixers, we become their support system: we become our children’s consultants, their cheerleaders. Our job now consists of encouraging them to find their own solutions. That will help build their confidence.
And that can be harder than putting on a band-aid. Especially if it’s those cute, little princess band-aids.
Our instinct as parents is to Fix It. “You should do this, and you should do that, and don’t forget to study for your test, and I told you to call your friend - no wonder you aren’t invited to any parties, and I, of course, I will fill out all your college papers that were due yesterday and call the Dean, and …”
We do this because we are so afraid to watch our children fail. We are afraid to see our children hurting. We are afraid of the social rejection. And we are so afraid for our children to feel any negative emotions. We can barely handle our own, let alone theirs.
Still, when the time comes, we need to remind ourselves that although we have always tried to protect our children from any semblance of pain — at some point, our job will shift. By constantly swooping in to “help” our kids, by trying to prevent their pain, what we are really doing is: preventing their growth.
(Read that sentence twice. It’s an important one ☝️)
Let’s practice by keeping these practical suggestions in mind. (These tips can really be used at every age):
1.) Start Practicing when they’re young. Play games with your kiddies starting at a young age and watch them lose. (And don’t be a sore loser when they beat you because you will be missing the point 🤣)
2.) Praise your children when they have tried something new. Praise the effort, not the results.
3.) Model for your children: Try a new recipe, invite someone over who has previously rejected the offer, be open about a business idea that has failed, talk about the struggles you had in school or how you struggled socially, or what it was like to be brought up by emotionally absent parents - be open with your children about your struggles in general.
4.) Make sure you are a support system for your children, and be available for them to talk it through when things don’t go their way. Practice those listening skills from Newsletter 2!
5.) Take note of what your child’s comfort zone is and push them slightly out of their comfort zone whenever possible. Reward them for their courage on leaving their comfort zone without letting the fear of imperfection block them. Challenge them weekly/monthly to leave their comfort zones. Sometimes, a child needs warning and prep before they are able to entertain the thought of leaving their comfort zone. That’s ok.
6.) Compliment your children! Everyone should all be aware of their strengths. Learning to accept compliments (and criticism) is so important, and it’s a social skill that many children (and adults!) need help with.
6A.) (I added this after, and didn’t want to renumber all of them). They should know their weaknesses also, so they can begin to work on them (when applicable). Confident people are willing to acknowledge that they don’t - and can’t - know everything. One needs confidence to ask for help.
7.) As much as possible, have your child develop a hobby, or an area of expertise that your child is awesome at. This will lead to greater confidence. If your son isn’t the best at learning, have them find an area where they shine. If your child can’t play ball well, have them play an instrument and rock at that. Every child should shine at something. And they should know it. Cultivate it. Know the value you bring to the table.
8.) Become a Giver. Do chesed! Give to others. Give to the community. At every age, there’s someone out there to help or somewhere to give.
9.) Learning how to think positively. Go here and scroll down on the page to check out my video about overcoming negativity.
10.) Confidence is contagious! Surround yourself with confident people.
Note: be careful not to confuse confidence and arrogance. More about that another time. Maybe.
Until next week…ish!