Every parent wants what’s best for their child – that goes without saying, but sometimes it can be confusing to figure out exactly what that means.
You want your child to be confident – but you don’t want them to be prideful.
You want them to feel good about themselves – but you also want them to be humble and exercise humility.
Balance is the key to success in helping your kids achieve a healthy level of confidence. When you’re trying to figure out exactly how much praise you should offer or what kind of reward system you should teach them about, keep in mind that excess in either direction can create undesirable results.
It’s also important to remember that children are always challenging, evolving and growing.
What may work for them one day, may not work for them the next day.
Being flexible, compassionate and understanding will help your child adjust to the challenges of growing and it can teach them, through modeling behavior, valuable lessons of patience and kindness.
Give them room to learn and grow
No one likes to see a child become upset or frustrated.
When we see a child cry, our natural instinct is to offer comfort and do everything we can to prevent them that pain in the future.
It’s perfectly natural and ok to express this type of compassion, but it can become unhealthy when it interferes with a child’s ability to learn lessons.
Most of us were taught that negative emotions like pain, sadness, fear and anger were not ok. We were sheltered from it and even sometimes punished for expressing those emotions.
Despite what we were taught, however, it’s important to learn how to experience and express every emotion – even the negative ones.
One of the greatest ways you can boost confidence in your children, is to help them understand that negative feelings are ok to experience.
Rather than try to prevent or distract them from negative feelings, teach them how to feel them fully and express them in healthy ways.
By giving them this opportunity, you are giving them the freedom to feel confident with every emotion they’ll experience as they grow older.
Encourage decision making
Decision making is an important step in building how to be more confident.
When your child is able to make decisions for themselves, they will begin to feel confidence with their judgements.
Again, balance is important, so be sure to set strong boundaries when giving your child choices, but also encourage them to choose without your input.
The reality is, a child’s brain simply isn’t wired for great judgement. Giving them the opportunity to grow in their decision making skills, but in a safe space that won’t have extreme consequences is the best way to help them build their confidence.
Just like adults, children can become overwhelmed by too many choices.
You may have heard of the term “paradox of choice,” which means that too many choices can actually inhibit our ability to make any choice at all. Try giving your child a few things to choose from, rather than leaving their decisions open ended.
For example, when they want a snack, instead of asking “what do you want,” you could ask “between carrots, applesauce or celery and peanut butter, which would you like to have?”
Allow them the opportunity to solve their own problems
It’s difficult to watch our children struggle with a problem that we can easily solve for them.
We have the answers and sometimes we just want to give it to them.
By letting children brainstorm their own solutions, you can help foster self confidence.
It may not be easy to do at first, but when tension arises between your child and their friends or siblings, rather than swoop in and correct the behavior, instead ask your child what they think some solutions could be.
The key here is to of course encourage healthy problem solving, but to let your child create those solutions themselves.
The next time your child runs into an issue with a playmate and comes crying to you and telling you about it.
Instead of correcting the problem, simply ask your child, “Can you think of some ways this problem could be solved?”
You might be surprised at some of the sweet and empathic answers your child gives.
Support acts of kindness
In both children and adults, confidence is encouraged by acts of kindness.
We feel good about ourselves when we do good for others.
Think of the last time you volunteered or maybe even just helped someone less fortunate than you in a small way.
You probably felt positive about yourself and the world and children aren’t immune to that experience.
You can always encourage kindness in children on a daily basis. From supporting their decisions to share or comfort other kids, to rewarding them for kind behavior, creating an environment that encourages kind behavior will also build confidence.
To really empower your children, schedule in time for your entire family to be involved in volunteer activities.
- Some families choose to spend part of Thanksgiving serving food at homeless shelters.
- Other families work on the weekends to pick up litter in their neighborhood.
However big or small, spending time together as a family in acts of kindness will teach your children incredibly powerful and positive things about themselves and the world around them.