Confident Children part 5
Confident children: part 5 So far in this series on we have found that parents are a major factor in developing confident children. We will pull it together and add some extra ideas in, in this final part.
What causes loss of Self-worth and Low Confidence levels?
- Constant Criticism – if they are always wrong why should they bother trying?
- Lack of attention – what is the point in achieving anything if nobody cares?
- Lack of expectation – kids tend to live up to the expectations we set for them. If you expect your child to be naughty all the time, that is what generally happens!
- Lack of energy – poor diet or an underlying illness can sap anyone’s energy levels.
- Lack of self worth – if children feel that they are unloved and unwanted, they will lose respect for themselves
So what can I do as a parent to raise confident children?
Use praise but don’t overdo it. It is pointless to praise anybody if they haven’t put the effort into a task. Children soon learn when you mean the praise and when it is said to please them.
Don’t follow praise with a “but if”. How many times have we heard parents say to their kids “but if”, “what if” or "next time do better"?
As an adult we would be annoyed that if someone said. "Fantastic well done, but if you had ran a little faster you would have come first." Research shows words like that are more damaging to a child than not reognising their achievement. Praise should never be used as an instrument of criticism however well meant.
Remember children build belief in themselves by achieving things rather than hearing your praise. Parents help by giving children opportunities to try things out for themselves.
They will make mistakes but that is how we all learn. Nobody is born knowing how to drive a car or ride a bike. You learn and by learning and mastering a skill you gain self confidence and a belief in your own abilities.
Don’t compare your child to other children including their siblings. It is not relevant what their older or younger brothers can do, it is what they do that matters. The chances are the child you are talking about is better at something than their siblings.
Make eye contact with your child. Get down on their level when you speak to them – it is very hard to motivate someone when you are towering over them. Sitting down with them is even better.
Acknowledge your child’s feelings. Everyone feels scared or lonely sometimes – it is natural and that applies to kids as well.
Let them make their own choices, (within reason). If it is safe for them to do so, let them continue down the path they have chosen. For example, if they have picked out their clothes for the day let them wear them. Even if the pink t-shirt clashes with the orange trousers and the frog-eyed purple Wellies. Who cares? Confident children don't so why should you. If you feel there is a problem with what they are wearing - it is your problem not theirs.
If you let them be individuals now. As they are less likely to follow the crowd when the teenage peer pressure begins.
Listen to your child. Often as adults, we listen with one ear but our minds are focused on something else. If your son or daughter sees that you are not listening to them, they will interpret it as proof you don’t care.
Don’t underestimate the strength of their feelings and never make fun of them. If they have told you how they are feeling, respect that and work it out with them. Try not to tell them that they are being babyish and have nothing to be scared of.
On the same note, watch how your praise is received. Some kids don’t want to be praised loudly in front of their friends – it isn’t cool. This is especially true of boys so be alert to their feelings and have some tact.
Don’t forget that they are children so may take longer to decipher what it is they are trying to achieve.
All children love stories. Not least because it gives them the undivided time and attention from their parents. You can use story time to motivate your child. Weave in examples of the type of behaviour you are trying to achieve into the story but do it subtly. If you overdo it, your child will lose interest and you will have ruined this special time.
Never forget the power of touch with children (and it works well with adults too when used appropriately!). When you are praising your child, touch their hand or give them a hug. The affection combined with the praise will reinforce the message that they are somebody very special.
Remember your role as a coach rather than a fixer. Your aim is to rear children who become positive role models as adults. You are preparing your child to one day take complete responsibility their self and actions.
You need start early and teach the child independence, confidence in their abilities. Allow them to make appropriate age related decisions etc.
See your role as a coach who encourages from the sidelines rather than living the child’s life for them. You won’t go far wrong with this approach.
Keeping your child dependent on you doesn’t do anyone any good*. It fosters resentment and anger in a bond that should be very precious. The bond between a parent and child is the only example of pure unconditional love we have. You should love your children unconditionally. And accept them for whom they are not whatever you wish them to be.
Raising confident children who have healthy self esteem and belief in their own abilities will enable them to go on and become a very successful well rounded adults. That should be the aim of every parent today.