Nearly every interaction you have with your child will have some form of impact on their self-confidence – what you say and what you do but equally what goes unsaid or undone. As a parent it is important to be able to identify situations where your child needs support and encouragement but it is also crucial that you identify those situations where your child needs to figure things out for themselves and learn from their own mistakes. Here is just a brief guide on how you can boost your child’s self-confidence in different circumstances.
The important thing is taking part
Everybody loves to win and kids are no exception. However, their motive is not always as clear-cut as it may seem – sometimes they simply want to win for the sake of winning but in other situations they want to win so as not to let other people down, especially their parent or guardian.
Whether they’ve just been through school exams or a test, a football match or school show, even something as simple as learning how to do fractions or reading a whole page of a book by themselves – whatever the accomplishment and no matter how small it may seem, be encouraging and supportive of and excited for your child! Highlight to them that it doesn’t matter how well they scored or whether they didn’t draw a picture as well as another child, so long as they tried their best you are so, so proud of them and their achievements have no bearing on how much you love them.
Don’t always come to the rescue
Sometimes the best way to learn is by making mistakes. If you (or your kid) messes up, it’s more likely that you will remember what lead to the mistake and not repeat the error. If children learn early on that their decisions and actions have consequences, they will be more likely to think things through before pursuing a given course.
By allowing children to stretch their wings and make their own mistakes, you show that you trust them and it can give them more sense of responsibility for their own actions. This can be a huge boost for their confidence, especially when they get it right!
Encourage their curiosity
Allow your kid to explore different activities to discover what they really enjoy and feel passionate about. When a child is genuinely interested ins something – be it dinosaurs, cooking or anything in between – they take pride in learning as much as they can about it.
Another source of confidence is if your child pursues hobbies that they are good at. For example, if you child is good at football (or even if they aren’t going to be the next Messi or Ronaldo but that doesn’t stop them loving playing) encourage them to pursue it! Not only is it good exercise and fun but it’s a great way for them to learn all sorts of other important life skills and lessons – how to work as part as a team, how to lose (and win) graciously, how to make friends… the list goes on. When your child realises all that they can do, this will do wonders for their self-belief.
Kids need a lot of encouragement no matter what they’re learning to do – crawl, ride a bicycle, read a book, make friends at school. However, it is important not to make too much of achievements. If they are told that every tiny thing that they manage to do is amazing and wonderful (even if that’s what you’re thinking), they won’t realise when something they accomplish is genuinely worth celebrating.
So be careful not to over-exaggerate achievements – if every drawing that your kid does is “the best drawing you’ve ever seen”, a time will come when your child starts to doubt whether your praise is sincere. Use your words to build up and encourage, this is important, but don’t be too effusive with your praise.
Introducing decision-making to your child at an early age is a great confidence booster. Of course, this should be done within reason. Letting your kid decide whether or not to go to school or their bed time is not a good idea! But occasionally giving them a choice of 2 or 3 things for dinner and letting them choose between them can be a gentle way to introduce the art of making decisions.