Children grow up at a dizzying rate. And as parents, our worry knows no bounds — which values to impart, how to be good influences, how to answer the big questions…and a crucial one: how to raise confident kids.
Why’s confidence such a big deal? It helps children feel ready for any and all of life’s experiences.
With confidence in their groove, children are more likely to find themselves immersed in great opportunities and wonderful connections — not shy away from them. And when challenges come a-knockin’, confidence helps them try and try again.
So if you’re a parent — bio, step, foster, adoptive, or what have you — and you need advice on how to raise confident kids, explore how to help your child with their self-esteem.
What Causes Low Self-Esteem in Kids?
The foundation of confidence is self-esteem. And when a child’s self-esteem is low, it can negatively affect their physical and mental well-being.
The causes of it vary but are aplenty. Here are a few reasons children have low self-esteem:
- Parents who are neglectful
- When their parents get angry if they make a mistake or fail at something
- Comparing them to another child
- Judging them solely on what the culturescape deems ‘successful’
- Parents who are helicopter or lawnmower parents
“Ultimately it is their beliefs that will totally determine how their lives turn out,” says Shelly Lefkoe at the Mindvalley Live 2020 in Los Angeles. “If your child grows up with the beliefs of ‘I’m not lovable,’ ‘I’m not capable,’ ‘I’m inadequate,’ how is that going to impact their lives? So you could see that beliefs are at the heart and the core of our children’s wellbeing.”
And it doesn’t help that the pressure to be ‘perfect’ can be found not only at home but also amongst their peers. In fact, a 2019 Pew Research Center survey of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 found:
- 61% of the teens say they feel a lot of pressure to get good grades.
- 29% of them face pressure to look good.
- 28% feel the need to fit in socially.
With stats like these, it sure hits the good ol’ confidence levels where it hurts.
We need to shift how we see our children so we can heal humanity and evolve the planet.
5 Tips On How to Raise Confident Kids
Imagine this: What if you could raise your children to be so empowered, they feel free to be their authentic selves? That’s the dream, isn’t it?
So as a parent, we should strive to nurture, provide structure and guidance, give recognition, empower, and respect our children as individuals in their own rights — it’s the very definition of positive parenting. With those principles in mind, there are insights from those best at talking about confidence and children: parenting experts Shelly Lefkoe and Dr. Shefali Tsabary. Shelly is the founder of Empowering the Next Generation and author of Parenting the Lefkoe Way. Dr. Shefali Tsabary is a clinical psychologist who is also the trainer of Mindvalley’s Conscious Parenting Mastery Quest.
Here are five tips on how to build confidence in kids with their insights.
1. Nurture your child
Warmth, love, and security are some of the most basic human needs. And nurturing your child will help build a healthy and strong emotional connection with them.
Insight from Shelly Lefkoe: “To keep your children from having that belief [of ‘I’m not good enough’], validate feelings. Most important skill you’ll ever learn as a parent. Give information and — listen everybody — don’t criticize.”
Insight from Dr. Shefali Tsabary: “To enter into a state of pure connection with your child, you can achieve this by setting aside any sense of superiority.”
What you can do
- Encourage your child to express their feelings and respect those feelings.
- Practice active listening to your child.
- Promote mutual respect and trust.
- Reflect on your own problem-solving, coping skills, and parenting style.
- Cut yourself some slack, and don’t expect to be perfect — you’re human, after all, and mistakes are bound to happen.
2. Provide structure and guidance
Children need a sense of security, a predictable routine, and necessary boundaries. It helps them with self-regulation, which allows them to make healthy choices for themselves and those around them. One thing to remember though: it’s all about consistency, predictability, and follow-through.
Insight from Shelly Lefkoe: “Children who feel powerless have to always test the universe to see if they have power. Children who feel powerful don’t have to do that.”
Insight from Dr. Shefali Tsabary: “Children aren’t ours to possess or own in any way. When we know this in the depths of our soul, we tailor our raising of them to their needs, rather than molding them to fit our needs.”
What you can do
- Ensure that all adults involved in raising the child are on the same page and respond to the behaviors in similar ways.
- To start, pick a few priority behaviors and implement them with a consistent response.
- Routines are great confidence-building activities for kids. Have a morning routine where they shower, get dressed, make their beds, and eat breakfast before going on with their day.
- Set realistic rules that fit your child’s age and development.
- Use positive consequences — praise your children when they follow the routine or rules. And use negative consequences, like loss of a privilege, when the routine and rules are broken.
3. Give recognition
Most people want to have a baby. But they forget that it’s not about having a child; it’s about raising a human. Your child is an individual, so listen to them and value them.
Recognition is a powerful tool when you want to learn how to raise confident kids. It can enhance the bond between you two and help build your child’s self-esteem.
Insight from Shelly Lefkoe: “Make sure your children know that who they are matters, not just what they do.”
Insight from Dr. Shefali Tsabary: “Our children didn’t come into the world to be our puppets. They came here to struggle, fumble, thrive, and enjoy — a journey for which they need our encouragement.”
What you can do
- Be mindful of your body language and maintain eye contact.
- Show your child that you’re paying attention to them and are interested.
- Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to give longer answers and build their vocabulary.
- Reflect on their efforts and actions by providing a playback. Example: “I see you’re building a fort using blankets and chairs. How are you going to set that up?”
- Document their efforts by taking photos or videos to reminisce with them later.
Empowerment helps enhance your child’s sense of competence. Additionally, it moves them away from the fear of failure and instead encourages self-belief in their own abilities, which sets them up for positive growth.
Insight from Shelly Lefkoe: “Tell your children: no matter what anybody thinks, no matter what you do, somebody’s not gonna like it. So you may as well do what you want. …but before you do stop and ask yourself, ‘what might the consequences be of my actions? And do I want to live with those consequences?’”
Insight from Dr. Shefali Tsabary: “Children learn who they are and what they really enjoy if they are allowed to sit with themselves.”
What you can do
- Encourage your child to make decisions that directly relate to them.
- Take a step back to be an observer and trust your child to explore their environment.
- Your child’s interests may be different from yours, but be as supportive and encouraging as you can.
- Boost their confidence with words such as “smart,” “amazing,” “creative,” and so on. And try not to focus on their physical appearance.
- Reinforce the advice of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
5. Ensure a safe space
Research has shown that childhood distress can lead to depression, anxiety, chronic illnesses, and high-risk behaviors like addiction. That’s why providing a safe space for children is incredibly important.
A safe space is where your child isn’t exposed to emotional or physical harm. And as a parent, we have a responsibility to ensure our children feel comfortable and confident enough to make their voices heard in a safe and peaceful manner.
Insight from Shelly Lefkoe: “Every child deserves the kind of parenting that allows them to have and live their dreams. They deserve the kind of parenting that has them be in life as a contributor, as a fully self-expressed human being, not the kind of parenting that they spend the rest of their lives recovering from.”
Insight from Dr. Shefali Tsabary: “What’s the holy grail of parenting? Disciplining your kids. … Traditional parenting is about fixing the kid, producing the kid, and creating this masterpiece. And really, it’s a control-based paradigm. And conscious parenting is always about connection before correction.”
What you can do
- Respond with empathy instead of anger.
- Encourage them to have open conversations and actively listen when they speak.
- Acknowledge their feelings.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Love them unconditionally as they are.
You Are the Changemaker
Behind every confident child is a parent who believes in them first. And as a parent, you have the opportunity to raise the next generation to be more mindful, conscious, and authentic human beings.
So, to the best of your ability, shift the parenting paradigm — transform the pattern from “I am the boss of my child” to “I am my child’s guardian angel.” With that in mind, help your child form positive beliefs about themselves and life.
And if you’d like to learn more about how to parent consciously, head over to Mindvalley. As a Member, you’ll have full access to resources like:
- Interactive live talks
- Miniseries on how to raise little humans
- A tribe of like-minded parents
- Quests, like Conscious Parenting Mastery with Dr. Shefali Tsabary.
Parenting is one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. But in exchange, it teaches you the meaning of unconditional love. And Mindvalley can help you appreciate and embrace that. Welcome in.