Tips for Raising a Confident Kid
DesignTrackMind asked me to post on this topic and I thought, “Gee, I wish I knew myself.” She said that she is asking me, not because I have all the answers, but because she knows that I will go crazy and do all the research. So, I did it, and here it is. And may we all raise confident kids because the world would be a better place if we did.
Of all the articles I read, these two were the most helpful. Do YOU have any advice to share? Please leave a comment. Perhaps you read a great article or book or dealt successfully with bullying or confidence in academics? Maybe you are a seasoned parent or grandparent? Please share!
I am personally a HUGE fan of Dr. Sears so I am starting with his advice. Here’s the link for his detailed post.
p.s. My How To: series of posts are here.
12 Ways to Help Your Child Build Self Confidence by Dr. Sears
Self-esteem is your child’s passport to lifetime mental health and social happinesst
It’s the foundation of a child’s well-being and the key to success as an adult. At all ages, how you feel about yourself affects how you act. Think about a time when you were feeling really good about yourself. You probably found it much easier to get along with others and feel good about them.
Self-image is how one perceives oneself
The child looks in the mirror and likes the person he sees. He looks inside himself and is comfortable with the person he sees. He must think of this self as being someone who can make things happen and who is worthy of love. Parents are the main source of a child’s sense of self-worth.
Lack of a good self-image very often leads to behavior problems
Most of the behavioral problems that I see for counseling come from poor self-worth in parents as well as children. Why is one person a delight to be with, while another always seems to drag you down? How people value themselves, get along with others, perform at school, achieve at work, and relate in marriage, all stem from strength of their self-image.
Healthy self-worth doesn’t mean being narcissistic or arrogant
It means having a realistic understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses, enjoying the strengths and working on the problem areas. Because there is such a strong parallel between how a person feels about himself and how a person acts, helping your child build self-confidence is vital to discipline.
Throughout life your child will be exposed to positive influences builders and negative influences breakers. Parents can expose their child to more builders and help him work through the breakers.
- Practice Attachment Parenting (when your child is an infant)
- Improve Your Own Self-Confidence
- Be A Positive Mirror
- Play With Your Child
- Address Your Child by Name
- Practice the Carry-Over Principle (i.e. encourage her talents)
- Set Your Child Up To Succeed
- Help Your Child Become Home-Wise before Street-Smarts
- Lose Labels
- Monitor School Influences on Your Child
- Give Your Child Responsibilities
- Encourage Your Child to Express, Not Stuff, Their Feelings
Please click here for his entire, really excellent article. Thanks Dr. Sears. You are my pediatrician hero!
Another View: Confident Children Result from NOT Overparenting by Michael Gross at Brainy Child
Click here for article.
Here are some key paragraphs:
Overparenting occurs when parents solve children’s problems rather than give them the chance to overcome problems themselves. It occurs when parents allow children to avoid legitimately challenging situations so they won’t be inconvenienced. It also occurs when too much control or too much order is imposed on children.
Overparenting is predominantly a mindset. It is a belief that children can’t overcome difficulties themselves and they can’t cope with discomfort or disappointment. It comes with increased affluence but it can occur in any socio-economic group. From my observation, it is more likely to occur in smaller rather than larger families or in families where a death has occurred or tragedy has been a visitor.
An overparented child is a protected, spoiled child. He or she often lacks real confidence and won’t take many risks. An overprotected child avoids new situations and looks to hide behind his parents when difficulties or challenges arise.
This is a different version of the information by Dr. Sears … a bullet pointed version if you don’t want to read a lengthy article (though I highly recommend his article). This is the link but the full post is below.
Ways to raise a self-confident child with high self-esteem
- Have a wall of accomplishments, display trophies, awards, photos and achievements. These positive reminders of a child’s successes will help to keep their confidence high.
- Monitor your child’s friendships and friends. Discrete attention to who he is seeing, how he interacts with them, and how his social skills are developing, will allow you to intervene when necessary to support him or make small adjustments to his activities. The support of his parents, acting for him in all situations where his confidence might be impacted, will be a powerful boost to his self-esteem and confidence.
- That also goes for his other activities outside the home. It’s no use relinquishing responsibility for your child to church groups, scout groups or schools: he’s ultimately your responsibility, as is his welfare. That responsibility extends to his developing self-confidence as well as his physical welfare. It may, for example, be necessary to introduce your child to suitable playmates if he seems unable to find the right set for himself.
- By inviting his friends to your home, you’ll be much better able to monitor who he’s mixing with and what the likely effect of these friends will be. After he’s about seven, his peers will begin to have an increasingly important effect on him, and since not everyone he associates with will have the same values that you do, it is probably a good idea to keep tabs on his friends by having them to your house.
- When children have had adequate attachments in their childhood, they are much better equipped to handle different environments which may have different rules. For healthy social development and complete self-confidence, a child first must feel secure with himself and his parents before he can feel secure with others.
- Don’t label your child. There’s a tendency for a family to scapegoat one member, or at least to label him or her. Calling a child “the shy one” or “the clever one” or “the unhealthy one” may give them a label to live by (or live up to) but it isn’t likely to do much for their sense of self or self-confidence.
- Monitor how your child is doing at school. One of our clients reported hearing a primary school teacher saying to the mixed sex class in her “care” that “all the problems in the world were due to men.” What message the boys in the class must have internalized from that is easy to imagine. That kind of influence needs to be corrected: generalizations like this, no matter what the reason for their delivery, can severely impact a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Your child needs neither complete protection from the outside world nor complete exposure to it. How he or she responds to the different behaviors that they meet in the world depends on how strong their attachments to you have been and how strong their self-confidence is. What’s for sure is that school can be a confidence-destroying experience if a child does not have the resilience to withstand the negative influences of the people they will meet there. This includes the disruptive behavior (bullying, aggressiveness) of other children who cannot cope because their confidence is not strong enough to withstand the change of environment.
- One point to keep in mind is that a child who has been exposed to a clear code of values early in life has a strong base from which to work when exposed to the value systems of others. And with a high level of self-confidence the child will be able to work out for him or herself what values he or she wishes to live by. The best way to get your values across to a child is to live by them.
- Don’t overprotect your child: the consequence of this is that your child may end up unable to think for himself.
- Don’t under protect either: that leaves a child lacking in confidence and open to the negative influences of people who offer some form of security – usually acceptance by the group, which may be undesirable.
- Give your child responsibilities. Let them learn assigned tasks, preferably things they have already shown an interest in. Giving a child responsibility for a task which he or she is capable of completing is a good way to build self-confidence, and helps to develop a sense of responsibility to self, family, and eventually society. Some jobs will be paid, others will be ones they are expected to do because that is their responsibility. By contributing to the smooth running of the house, children feel needed, valued and competent.
- Be clear about what is expected of each family member.
- You’ll always want to encourage your children to express what they feel. That doesn’t mean expressing emotion in an uncontrolled way, it means giving them the confidence to express what they feel in an appropriate way. You don’t want to raise a very reserved child nor one with too much emotional expressiveness. But keeping feelings inside doesn’t do anyone any good. For one thing, it conveys the message that feelings are threatening – which they can be, if a person is not used to their expression – and it denies them the natural need to express themselves. If feelings are denied, disapproved of or not expressed, a child can come to the conclusion that it isn’t worth feeling anything; and if a child believes his or her feelings count for nothing, they are likely to come fairly quickly to the conclusion that they too are not worth much.
- Being uncaring about how a child feels is one way that parents can teach a child to suppress emotions. Another is to react angrily when a child feels something and expresses it in words or emotions. In essence, the caring parent who wishes to build a child’s self-esteem will accept their emotions, not judge them, and help the child work through whatever is bothering him or her.
You don’t have to worry “giving” a child about self-esteem
It isn’t something that needs monitoring on a daily basis. Children go through ups and downs, just as we all do. The secret of giving a child strong self-esteem and a high level of confidence is to be there with them in what they experience, go through life supporting them, caring for them and letting them develop naturally, all the while being around when they need you. It’s not about force feeding an agenda that you have for the child, or passing on your own expectations. Nor is t about falsely protecting them from the rigors of life.