‘Do you think you are confident?’ I asked my kids.
Luckily, they both said yes.
Because, I explained to them, Mommy will write about raising confident kids; and if you weren’t confident Mommy would be a fake.
My daughter gave me her special quite relaxing smile. To proof his confidence, my 10 year old son started dancing and told me he would even be confident enough to go to ‘America got talent’ with his cool moves.
So, I gathered a list of tips from some psychologists and from my own experience on how to best raise happy and confident kids. After all, aren’t happy and confident kids what we all want as parents?
My daughter gave me her special input and tip which made it into the list below. Unfortunately, my son could not be bothered to give his input since he was still practicing his dance for ‘America got talent’.
1. Love unconditionally
Being loved and comforted are the foundation of confident kids. The power you as parent provide by showing pure love, is undeniable. Your kid should know how special it is to you and feel safe with you.
It is absolutely crucial that you show your love without conditions and your affection without any limitations but with hugs, smiles and laughter. You can also develop creative ways to show your affection. As an example you can put notes in your kid’s lunchbox with messages like ‘I think you’re awesome!’ Try it and see how it works.
2. Start early
Building confidence starts right after birth. It is important, that the baby experiences being loved, having clues understood and having needs fulfilled.
In the first two years the baby’s brain grows fast and it develops associations and patterns that help build confidence – or no confidence. Even if kids have some tough times during this period like a hospital stay or a surgery, their confidence is still built if they are mostly nurtured and able to develop trust.
3. Know how to praise
Words of praise are important. A positive feedback is always a confident booster. In general words of praise mean a lot when they refer to your kid’s specific efforts or new abilities. Empty praises or overpraising seem to teach a kid that it does not need to work for reaching a goal. Empty praises rob the kid from the feeling ‘I can do it!’
Try to create opportunities for achievements and success. It will make your kids feel good about themselves, motivates them and opens doors for more creativity. Of course we should not limit our praise to success. We should also praise our kid for being special, being a good friend, being considerate and being good company.
4. Respect individuality
Every kid has a unique set of talents and an own personality. You should get to know and support these special talents. Your kid will feel your support and develop into a happy and self-assured individual. A quite kid that rests in itself can be just as confident and happy as a kid that is always the center of attention.
So, respect your kid’s individuality and stay away from comparison. Kids who feel good about themselves and are encouraged to develop their strengths and weaknesses can handle conflicts and negative pressure much easier.
5. Bite your tongue
As a parent I know the urge to rescue my kid. But psychologists stretch how important it is to encourage kids to overcome obstacles instead of having obstacles removed for them. Let’s say my son is struggling with getting his shoes on and I hurry to him and do it for him and tell him ‘I told you to do it this way or that way.’ I should have stayed were I was! Not only did I take the chance from my son to achieve something on his own, I also discouraged him to try and trust himself in the future.
Interestingly, even small kids are already creative problem solvers. A 4-year-old for example, who had a toy taken away from her at a playground told the toy-grabber, ‘You’ll have more fun if you play with me than if you play by yourself.’ You see what I mean? The kid had to solve its own problem and it came up with a creative, smart, successful, and peaceful solution.
6. Have patience for the mess
Let your kid to do something alone like a salad or a sandwich. After your kid watched you a few times and with some instructions, your kid will be able to do some simple things alone. Express your trust that it will be great.
And yes, it will surely be messy. Just like you need to bite your tongue you need some patience to accept the mess.
7. My daughter’s powerful insight
As mentioned above I’ve also asked my 12-yer old daughter what she thinks is the best way to raise a confident kid. Her statement was simple but powerful:
‘You must love your kids but also prepare them for people out there who are not nice’
Aww, what a great way to put it. As much as we love our kids, it’s not good to overprotect them. We also have to prepare them for a reality that is not always so loving. A good way to do this is by practicing in role plays or discuss at home what to say or do in a specific situation. This might be a push by another kid at the playground or stupid remark of a class mate.
8. Create opportunities for own decisions
Boost your kid’s confidence by allowing them to make their own choices. By doing so, give them only limited choices so that you don’t overwhelm them.
As an example, you can give them three dinner choices or let them choose one T-shirt out of 3. As a result, they will learn to trust their own judgment. But use common sense; of course wearing slippers to go out into the snow is never a choice.
9. Help your kids help others
You can involve your kids in activities that help others. For example, you can have them donate clothes or toys, volunteer at an animal shelter, pack and deliver care boxes for the less fortunate, and so on.
In general, any activity that encourages selflessness, cooperation and no competition will be especially helpful in boosting self-confidence. Helping others always makes the helper feel good as well.
10. Boost your own confidence
We all know that kids copy us parents all the time, maybe more than they do what we tell them. So, it makes sense that we present ourselves as that great confident person we want them to be. However, we also know that we parents are imperfect human beings. And we all have our moments of doubt and insecurity.
Don’t freak out if you are not the role model you want to be. While we should try our best, we parents just can’t be great all of the time. If you feel like you need to boost your own confidence, start believing that you are special and accept and enjoy your kid’s wonderful love for you.
We all want to raise confident and happy kids. But sometimes it seems tough to do so.
Raising confident kids gets easier when you know the right strategies. And by now you have learned them, starting from giving unconditional love to your kids to accepting unconditional love from your kids.
Some strategies might have been reminders. Some strategies might have given you new ideas.
Which strategy will you try first?
About the Author
Ilka Emig is a passionate self-development writer, lovable scientist and mother of two funny, constantly question asking and knowledge craving kids. She is on a mission to motivate parents to relax and enjoy their kids. Ilka Emig is a contributor to KachyTV Blog and writes at http://simplyilka.com/