In front of a group of complete strangers, my three year old daughter stood gleefully screaming a verse she had just learned the night before. Fearless, she continued to participate with this group of children she had never even met before despite weekly meltdowns of not wanting to participate in her own class at home.
And that’s when it hit me.
Her confidence was rooted less in the praise or approval of others (including those she knew and those she didn’t), but more in how she perceived her value and self image.
You see, in the days before, we had talked up visiting my mom’s church, knowing that in our own city, she didn’t seem to thrive. And in speaking those words of affirmation to her and over her, she was seeing her worth.
There was value reflected in what she knew and who she innately was instead of any lack of knowledge or shortcomings she had. So she walked in that room with confidence to her ears and proud to be herself.
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5 strategies to raise more confident children
It’s sad to think, but in our world of everyone being compared to each other, our children’s confidence is suffering. Kids are constantly looking at themselves through someone else’s eyes, which never allows them the opportunity to truly see themselves and love themselves.
As parents, we want to raise confident children who know their self-worth so they are better able to deflect bullies and negative influences. And we want to connect with our kids in a meaningful ways that reflect their worth.
Be a Positive Mirror for your kids
Your child’s self-image comes mostly from what they think others believe about them so they need to learn about positive self-image from their parents’ responses. Do you reflect positive or negative images to your child?
When you give them positive reflections, they learn to think well of themselves. It’s their inner voice and their reassurance in more difficult times.
Read about teaching children to problem solve from an early age.
Be a Realistic Parent
You can’t be positive and happy all the time. Your child should know that you have down days, too. They can see through fake cheerfulness.
Let them know it’s okay to experience down times, it doesn’t change how you feel about yourself.
Raise a Confident Child by Playing Together
You will learn a great deal about your child during play. Playtime and engaged listening gives them the message, “You are worth my time.”
Children learn through play so spending time together will improve their feelings of importance. Instead of viewing playtime as a chore, use it to make an investment in your child’s confidence building.
Set Your Child Up to Succeed
Helping your child develop talents is part of parenting. If you recognize an ability that your child doesn’t see, encourage them. Gently push them towards developing their talent. If you don’t encourage your child to try, their skills won’t improve, and you’ve lost a valuable confidence builder.
Read more on why teaching our children consequences helps them to not be afraid of failure.
Beware of Value-by-Comparisons
Children judge their own value by how they think others value them. And in our measuring-and-testing society, children’s skills are measured in comparison to others. Your child may an exceptional speller, getting a 95% on their test. But they could will feel inadequate if their classmates all get a 98%. It’s part of life.
If you want to raise a confident child, be sure they believe you value them because of who they are, not how they perform.
Offer plenty of eye contact, touching and focused attention. Be mindful of how they are feeling about themselves and respond accordingly. They must know that your love does not depend on your approval of their performance.
Helping your child build their confidence and self-worth is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give them and one of the best ways to meaningfully connect.
Read more about not overpraising kids or listen to the podcast episode.
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Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!