How to nurture self-confidence in your child?

How to nurture self-confidence in your child?

We all want our children to have a wonderful life, full of good experiences and happy moments. But we can’t always stand behind them to ensure this. As magical heroes, however, we wield the superpower to enact and accentuate nice doings: we can nurture their self-confidence.

“But I don’t want my child to be cocky,” some will argue. And that is a valid concern. Instilling a healthy sense of humility is important too. However, here we’re talking about self-respect, their inner confidence — their innate worthiness and freedom to be themselves. If a child is confident, they will be able to cope with what life brings them. 

So, how to foster this?

Allow children to experience success.

Children need to experience everything for themselves. Theory is one thing, practice is another. Let them try things from a young age. Choose tasks that are manageable but worth the effort. You’ll see how happy they feel when they’ve succeeded!

Help children overcome their doubts.

Some activities can be mastered by the child simply by imitating us. Others we have to explain a little. If you can see that your child doesn’t know how to go about a task, try gently guiding and supporting them with questions: What do you need in order to solve it? How about trying to think out loud…

Work with the situation matter-of-factly. 

Children form many of their opinions of the world and of themselves through what their parents say and do. Many of us already know this from our own childhood, but by all means, let’s not repeat any negative examples — avoid ridiculing and putting children down. It is also not good to make sweeping judgements; instead, review what is happening and let your child say what they think about it. If there’s an accident, rather than telling them “You’re so clumsy,” let’s say something like, “Your drink has spilled, hasn’t it? What should we do about it? Shall we clean it up together?” 

Do not compare your child with other children.

Parents don’t make it easy for their children (or themselves) by comparing their child’s progress to that of others. If you fret over the fact that the neighbour-girl Annie started walking earlier, or that Karl is already speaking in sentences, etc... It implies that your child is inferior, an attitude that they will pick up on. Moreover, such comparisons actually miss the point — everyone is different and developmental stages vary; the timing is not important and does not reflect the quality of the achievement. It’s natural for parents to notice these things, but try to keep this to yourself instead of saying it  out loud, so that it is not misinterpreted. Let us teach children to compare themselves only with themselves. Ask your child if they are happy with their performance of a given task (while refraining from overtones that imply what you feel the answer should be). If they are not satisfied, then let them know they can talk with you about what they could do better next time. There’s a good chance they will learn more in reflection than if they had done things very well in the first place.

Avoid unwarranted praise.

Praise is important, but excessive praise at every turn does more harm than good — it renders genuine praise meaningless. Rather, concentrate on showing appreciation for real performance and effort. Instead of constantly repeating “You’re such a good boy!” try describing exactly what is being appreciated at the time: the flower petals in the picture they’ve drawn, the thoroughness with which they cleaned up a spilled drink, the fact that they tidied up without being prompted, etc. 

Allow your child to make mistakes.

It’s human — and necessary — to make mistakes. When we fail at something, we tend to be unhappy about it, blame ourselves for being incompetent, or even get angry at those around us. It may even be that we prefer not to engage in any challenging activity for fear of making a mistake. If so, we ourselves have a big lesson to learn. A mistake is a wonderful opportunity to learn. Let’s teach children to work with mistakes, to glean from them what can be improved upon. This doesn’t mean making light of the mistake or forbidding children to be disgruntled at that moment. It’s a matter of explaining that mistakes are a normal part of life and are also beneficial. Each failure is an experiment in itself, revealing both what went right and what went wrong, which is excellent information to have. [The most brilliant inventions are the result of a series of failures]. By asking guiding questions, we can show children how to make the most of their mistakes — they’ll discover that there’s no need to fret. 

Trust your child and take them seriously.

Instead of treading on our child’s toes and pushing away any setbacks, let’s try trusting them to find their way forward, while remaining available for them to consult. By respecting them and listening to them, we teach our child that what they feel, think, and do is important. It doesn’t compromise our position as parents, quite the opposite. For instance, when we straightforwardly and considerately explain to our child why we are not granting them permission for something, they will recognise that we are treating them honestly and respectfully, and will come to learn the value of mutual respect.

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