Steps 7-12…helping your child develop self-confidence
The next 6 steps a parent can take to help a child develop that ever important self-confidence!
7. Promote independence
- Let a child explore his or her world freely. Make your home as safe as possible so mobile infants and toddlers can explore safely. Let your child “step away” from you! Take a deep breath and let your child go down that slide or climb those monkey bars! Expose your child to new experiences whenever you can. The more people, places, and experiences the better a child will be able to navigate their world.
- Give your child chores. Toddlers and preschoolers benefit from taking on new responsibilities. School age children and teens need daily responsibilities at home that increase with age. Children that have chores feel a part of the family and needed. This builds their self-confidence.
- Break things into small tasks. Many children will look at a task and simply say “I can’t”. As a parent we can help by breaking things down into very small steps. When learning to tie a shoe, it is much easier if the child practices one part at a time, and then we can encourage and celebrate when that small part is mastered. When an older child comes home with 30 math problems, break those problems down into groups of 5 and then celebrate or take a break after each five. Accomplishing parts of the whole, builds a child’s confidence to tackle large projects and embark on new ones.
- Introduce your child to other adults and encourage them to have loving relationships with these adults. Spending time away from you with grandparents, aunts and uncles, Godparents, and close friends shows your child that others can meet his or her needs too—and that many people love and care for him or her too. This is especially important as your child gets older, he or she may need to look to other trusted adults for advice. Knowing that others care about them and can offer support and advice, builds confidence in decision making. Surround your child with loving adults!
8. Give your child moral guidance
- Instill moral values in your child. Every child and adult will at sometime find themselves in difficult situations, and they will need self-confidence in their values to make difficult decisions. Root your child in their faith and/or family values, this will provide them the confidence they need to make those tough moral decisions.
- Help your child be comfortable with his morals and values well before the teen years. Moral values should be taught at a very young age, and incorporated into daily life. This will help a child to be confident enough in his values to confident to resist peer pressure in those crucial teen years. By age 3 children are beginning to develop empathy and the beginnings of a moral core. By age 7 children have developed a conscience and will have defined right and wrong.
- Raise a caring child. A child who truly cares for others and gives of himself or herself expecting nothing in return develops confidence. As a parent ask yourself if you are a good role model of caring. Do you volunteer in the community? Do you provide opportunities for your family to volunteer together? Do you provide activities that may encourage good deeds like a “caring basket” that children can draw a good deed out of each day? Remember children will model the behavior that is most prominent in a home. Behavior is more influential than words.
9. Give your child a secure home
- Keep your home peaceful and protect your child from adult problems. A child should not witness parents yelling and arguing constantly. Adult problems should be kept adult so a child feels confident in their security at home.
- Consistent loving discipline will help your child feel secure and confident in their behavior. Knowing what is expected and the consequences of misbehavior will help your child feel secure. Discipline should never be scary or demeaning because that type of discipline undermines a child’s confidence. Your child should know that his action was not acceptable not him.
10. Do not attempt to buy your child’s self-confidence.
- Parents need to remember that they cannot make children happy and confident by buying the newest and best. Buying the latest toy, video game or outfit will not make your child more confident with his or her peers. The happiness or confidence will be very short lived, as it is not an internal quality. Raising a confident child means that you have given your child the tools needed to be successful and happy—not bought them.
11. Be a good example to your child.
- You must be aware of how you react to your own mistakes or shortcomings. If your child consistently sees Mom or Dad melting down in frustration, or beating themselves up after mistakes or continual negative words about themselves, then your child will pick up on this reaction. Children learn by your example, and will react similarly when something goes wrong for them. Try to demonstrate positive reactions to frustrating situations, rather than anger or negative self talk.
- Be a “can do” parent. Accept challenges at work and at home in a positive way. Once again, if you negative talk, your child will learn that behavior.
12. Help your child deal with defeats.
- Let your child know that your love and support does not change with a failure or defeat. When a child experiences a failure or defeat, help your child concentrate on the process. What went wrong? What did you learn from it? Your child will use this new knowledge the next time a challenge comes. Your child’s self-confidence will not increase when you protect him or her from disappointments, it will decrease when he or she finally realizes the truth, life can be challenging and not everything is successful.
- Your child’s self-confidence is affected by your thoughts and feelings about him. What you think of your child will result in what your child will think of himself. Children will experience plenty of criticism and adversity in life—that is why a parent’s love and confidence in them is so incredibly important. Watch your words and actions, love your child unconditionally, support your child when he or she fails…help your child regroup and start again.
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.