It sure has to be tough being a kid these days. It’s not like when we were kids – today’s kids have so much more on their minds, so much more to worry about than we ever did growing up. The social and peer pressures they face are also much more intense than the ones we have dealt with as youths, meaning some parents simply don’t know how to raise strong, self-confident kids in this modern world.
While none of us want our kids to become overconfident to the point where they become arrogant, not having enough self confidence is quite a big problem for kids these days, and the problem starts in their developing years.
In order to take an active role in developing a strong sense of self confidence in your child, we have compiled this list of tips that will guide you on your path to raising a responsible, self confident boy or girl.
1. Encourage them to be themselves – This one seems obvious, but you might be surprised by the amount of parents who are (often subconsciously) trying to mold their children into miniature versions of themselves, and not letting them become their own person. You can encourage your kids to be themselves by finding out what their interests are and helping them to participate more in the activities they enjoy.
If your child loves to ride their bicycle, take them out riding a couple times a week. Even if their interests seem a bit strange to you, encourage them to pursue them anyways (as long as they are not dangerous).
What you want to avoid at all costs is telling them not to do the things they like, or criticizing their interests – no matter how you personally might feel about them. If they start to believe that the things they like are “wrong” or “stupid” (even if you don’t use those words – remember their interpretation of what you say is all up to them), they will become hesitant to take on new interests and hobbies in the future, and likely just latch on to what the crowd is doing. While enjoying the activities of their friends around them is not necessarily a problem, if they are participating in other people’s favorite activities exclusivity, they will lose the sense of self confidence to make their own decisions.
2. Have them participate in household chores – No, this isn’t just a way to squeeze a bit more free elbow grease out of your children, it actually helps them develop a higher sense of self confidence. The feeling of working at something that contributes to the household makes children feel good about themselves, even if they are too young to understand the connection between their efforts and the way it makes them feel.
Make sure to give your child chores that are suitable for their age and maturity level. Trying to get a 5 year old to wash all the dishes in the house is not going to do much for their self confidence – in fact, it will have quite the opposite effect.
With chores that are easy to accomplish and even fun for them, they gain a feeling of accomplishment and the self confidence that they can do a good job at something when given a task. Make sure to always praise your children when they do a good job too, that’s worth more self confidence points than completing the chore itself.
3. Don’t let home/school work go unfinished – We all know how difficult it can be to get some kids to do their homework. Also, let’s be honest – sometimes we try to help them complete it and even we don’t understand it! An embarrassing, yet common problem.
The tough part is, even if your child hates homework and would rather avoid it all costs, they probably still feel very bad when they walk into school the next day with their incomplete assignment in hand. Kids can quickly begin to feel like a failure in this situation, especially since most teachers are not so lenient on kids who don’t complete their assignments (and rightly so).
If homework is a pain point for your child, take an active role in helping them to complete it. Even if you have to sneak one of their books into your bedroom at night to get yourself up speed, your assistance in helping them to become a better student will do wonders for them becoming a super confident kid.
4. Enforce positive thinking by practicing it yourself – Nothing hurts more than hearing your child say “I can’t” or “I’ll never be able to do that!” before even giving it a try for themselves. Children who give up before they even start on a regular basis are far more likely to have self confidence issues throughout their adolescence.
To practice this in front of them, make a point not to use too many negative words like “can’t” and “never”. For example, if your child asks, “Can we have hamburgers for dinner tonight?”, don’t say, “No, I can’t make hamburgers in time for dinner” – instead say “the hamburger meat is still frozen, it won’t be ready before dinner time”. It might seem like a small change, and one that your child won’t notice consciously, but children have an amazing habit of picking up actions from those around them, especially their parents.
If you can frame their state of mind so that “I can’t” is far away from their mind when answering a question, they will be much more confident in their perception of what they actually can do.
5. Create fun goals for your child – This can work as a way to reward them for good actions or behaviors with things like treats or special activities, or simply as a way to raise their self esteem. The goal system helps them feel better about themselves for the fact that they are constantly achieving something.
This can also be a great way to make them more motivated to the things they should be doing anyways and in turn, instill them as good habits. Things like keeping their room clean, making their bed and brushing their teeth can all be included as daily things that need to be done, that they are rewarded for after a week of not missing a day.
Your child will likely be far more focused on the reward they will receive, but it will subconsciously be building their self confidence levels.
6. Encourage them to be free with their emotions – While a parent’s natural instinct is to comfort a crying child, be careful that they understand the fact that they are crying and upset is NOT the problem at hand. Your children should feel free to express their emotions freely whether positive, negative or anywhere in between.
If you try too hard to make your child stop crying, just for the sake of not having to hear them cry, they will not only suppress their emotions, but will become hesitant to open up to you when they have a problem.
When they don’t feel comfortable expressing their emotions, or to talk with their parents about something that is bothering them, it can have a huge effect on their self confidence throughout the rest of their childhood.
7. Don’t be afraid to get silly with your child – Kids love being silly and provided they aren’t doing it at inappropriate times (school, church etc.) you should be encouraging them to let their silly side come out and play.
Have you ever seen a child who was so serious at all times, they almost come across as an adult? We all have, and some of us even admire children like that for being so grown up.
The thing is, children that are far too mature for their age end up missing out on a huge part of their childhood, something that affects them now as well as later in life.
8. Allow them to make some of their own decisions – If your child is still in elementary school, they don’t have to decide which university to go to or which Premier they ought to vote for but they can pick what they want for dinner- chicken or fish.
Or they can pick how they want to spend their afternoon. Do you want to go to the park and play on the swings or do you want to go hiking through the trails by Grandma’s house?
Both choices may seem appealing and both have pro’s and con’s much like many of the choices they’ll have to make as they grow older.
Allowing your kids to make judgements and balance the pluses and minuses of their choices will empower them.
Every confident kid is a kid that can make choices and can stick to the decisions that they’ve made.
9. Let them decorate their own room – If you are planning to do a renovation of your child’s room in the near future, why not let them be involved with the design process? After all, it’s their room, they should like their own room, shouldn’t they?
Now, don’t get too carried away, your child likely doesn’t have an eye for design yet to be able to make more intricate decisions, but involving them in the decision process for things like wallpaper and paint color makes them feel important and as if their opinion actually matters – because it does!
Don’t be afraid to make suggestions either, some kids aren’t ready yet to decide on things like that on their own. If you suggest certain colors and patterns to them though, they can at least tell you which ones they like and don’t like and can still be a part of the process.
10. Don’t let their fears overcome them – Children often have fears that can seem illogical to the adult brain, but that doesn’t make them any less terrifying to the developing brain. Trying to completely avoid anything your child is afraid of will only serve to make sure they stay scared of that thing in the future too.
At the same time, you don’t want to overwhelm them by forcing them to experience the things they are afraid of all at once. The perfect balance is by slowly exposing them to the things that cause them to feel fear, and having them realize there is nothing to be afraid of.
Once your child overcomes their fear of a certain thing, it will make them feel brave, proud and confident. Nothing feels better, whether child or adult, than finally standing up and facing something that’s been scaring you. A confident kid is a kid that can overcome their fears.
11. Allow them to have their own time without you – Ask any parent and they will tell you that while seeing their kids grow up before their eyes is one of the greatest joys in life, it is also saddening. Every second older they get, is a second closer to them being independent and eventually moving away from home.
Still, we need to let them have their own space and not be on top of them at all times. If they have friends over, leave them be and let them play with their friends without you trying to follow along too. A child who has friends outside of the home or neighborhood will feel much more confident about going out and making new friends on their own.
12. Let them figure out some problems on their own – If they are having some sort of problem, and it’s not time sensitive or putting them in some sort of danger, take a step back and let them try and figure it out for themselves. Not only is it a great way to see what sort of approach your child takes to problem solving, but finally figuring out the solution to one of their problems can be a big point of pride to any child.
As parents, we want to do the absolute best for our child, even if sometimes it can be tough to see them grow up so quickly. While it is true that self confident children do grow up and become independent faster, they will appreciate all the effort you put in to prepare them for their adult lives. So, even though we would love our children to stay young and cute forever, in the end, all this parenting is really to prepare them to grow up to be respectful, responsible and confident adults.
Help your children learn self confidence from a young age – it’s something they will use for life!
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