- Family and Parenting
Things You Can Do As a Parent That Instil Self Confidence in Your Children
Parents are critical in shaping the confidence of their children. The home and family relationships more than any other force, molds and shapes children in many ways. The values, preferences, and habits of family are foundational in the development of children. With the family having such a tremendous impact, the responsibilities that fall upon you as a parent are tremendous.
As a parent, you are one of the prime shapers of your children’s self-confidence. Building self-confidence is not something that can be done once and the process is over with. Confidence is a trait that develops over time. The many experiences and lessons presented to your child shape the amount and strength of their self-confidence.
First, you can not teach or instill something that you do not have. When you do not have confidence in your own abilities, you will have a hard time instilling confidence in your child’s abilities. For this reason, the place to start is with yourself and making sure that you have confidence in what you are doing. Many first time parents are anxious about their ability to raise children. This insecurity is heightened by ‘experts’ who meddle in your life trying to tell you how to raise your own children. They may be well intentioned, but you are the parent, not them. Although the psychologist, school counselor, social worker or youth pastor may have some good ideas, they are not the parent, you are. You can begin exercising your own self-confidence by setting clear boundaries on meddling by the so-called experts. You own self-confidence will begin growing by leaps and bound when you kick the meddlers out of your life, even when they are family members. One of the early crises for families is when the extended family attempts taking over the child rearing. You need to set clear boundaries and raise your children, not let them do so.
The things that you can do to improve your child’s self confidence will vary from age to age. You can begin by looking at them in the eyes. Tell them that they are important. Tell them that they are important to you. Tell them that they have value to you. Call them by name and look at them. In these early stages you will also need to be careful as to not resent them infringing on your time. Children, even at an early age pick up the double message when you say that you love them, yet show resentment at having your sleep interrupted or having to clean up their messes.
Confidence can be increased when you listen to them. When as a child they talk about wanting to be a cowboy, or driving a Ferrari one day consider how you react. Responding by telling them, that there is no way that will happen or that you will never be able to afford such a thing or that cowboys are trashy. Definitely avoid the response, “That’s stupid!” or “No way!”. Instead, listen to them. Ask them about how they will make these things happen. Question like, ‘Then what’ can often get them to elaborate on their plans. These kind of interactions begin setting the stage for confidence. They dream, and your response to that dream will either enhance their goal setting or discourage it.
Their confidence can further be enhanced by allowing them to have some choice in what clothes they wear. When you make all the clothing decisions and dress them, it takes away their power and confidence in their choices. This means that you will have to let go of your fantasies of having perfect looking children or little dolls that you can play dress up with. When you make all the choices, yes, they are picture perfect, but they learn that they do not have value or importance or that their value is less than that of others.
As a parent, you may have to guide their choices through limiting their options. Whenever possible, you want them to get used to making choices in little things. When those little things go well, their self-confidence grows. Choices are a way of improving their self-confidence.
As they grow older, another big step in improving their self-confidence is through navigating dangerous items. When the child learns how to use scissors or make some things in the kitchen for themselves, it builds their confidence. Learning how to master sharp items and fire are important. Since these are safety issues, the child will need to be under adult supervision. Adult supervision means that they do it under the watchful eye of the parent, not that you as the parent do it all for them.
Although today’s nanny oriented society frowns on dangerous items and toys, it is often through learning the proper way to handle dangerous items that self-confidence grows exponentially. When you nanny your child, they learn to avoid dangerous items, rather than attempt to master them. Learning how to handle dangerous items like knives and matches in the proper way also keeps them from experimenting with them in secret. If you are really brave, allowing them to learn the use of slingshots, b-b guns, and archery will improve self-confidence in big ways. Using such items teaches them adult like skills and gives them confidence in what they can do.
You may also want to allow them to learn how to ride bicycles, swim and surf. These activities involve learning how to master dangerous situations and build confidence in the process. If learning how to work as a part of a team is important to you, consider allowing and encouraging them to play hockey or football. These team sports give them confidence in their own abilities and teach them how to work as a team member and trust others.
You will need to take a problem-solving rather than a fault finding approach to issues that arise. When your child does something you do not approve of, rather than fly off the handle and look for who to blame, look instead for ways of solving the problem. Blaming and solving problems are two very different approaches the yield very different results. Confidence will be enhanced as they work through and solve the problems that they encounter much more than yelling about who to blame.
It also helps to validate their frustrations. When they are aggravated at some school problem, acknowledge their frustrations, before trying to solve any problem. There are times that they may want to know that you are there for them rather than having you solve it for them. When you solve all their problems and issues rather than let them find a solution, you are robbing them of confidence in their own abilities. As adults they will face many problems. Instilling a confidence in their ability to work through the problems and find good solutions is a wonderful achievement. You want to prepare them for adulthood, not live their lives for them or keep them from all risks and dangers.