By Jill Hope
Confidence is such an essential quality in living a happy, successful life. Confident people are more likely to ask for what they want, and tend to do it in a way that gets a positive response. When confident people meet failure, they tend to pick themselves up, view the situation as an opportunity to improve some aspect of themselves, and keep on going. Confident people don’t let the “no’s” in their life stop them.
The problem is that so many kids seem to lack confidence today. In fact, in terms of the things at the top of parents’ wish lists, improving their child’s confidence ranks right up there.
In working to improve my own self-confidence, as well as that of my child’s and of the children in the families that I coach, I’ve found a number of fairly easy, straightforward steps to building greater self-confidence in kids.
So, what can you do to nurture greater confidence in your child?
1) Allow your child to make decisions and experience the consequences. When you provide your child appropriate options and give your child the ability to choose, you allow her to experience little successes. As her experiences with success build, so too does her confidence in her abilities. And if her choices result in a failure of some sort, you can use the opportunity to empower her to take responsibility and show her how she can resolve the issue, which in and of itself, will give her the confidence to resolve challenges when they arise.
2) Teach your child to speak in a way that cultivates self-responsibility. You can show your child that he is responsible for his feelings by having him speak in a way that encourages self-responsibility. For example, if your child says something like “Drew made me mad”, you can ask him if it is really true that Drew made him mad, or if he chose to be mad because of something Drew did. Then you can encourage your child to instead say, “I chose to feel mad when Drew did that”. When our children realize that they are responsible for their feelings, and they start to speak in a manner that reinforces that they are always at choice with how they choose to feel, they begin to feel empowered in their lives, rather than at the mercy of how others may choose to treat them. And through this empowered feeling, greater confidence can grow.
3) Encourage your child to do for herself what she is capable of doing rather than doing these things for her. I am going to admit something; I am sometimes a servant for my child! As he sits on the couch reading his book, he will often ask me to bring him a glass of water or an apple, and often, I oblige. Here’s the thing; he is more than capable of doing these things on his own, and as much as I don’t mind doing it, I am actually doing him a disservice when I continue to “serve” him. The more our children can do for themselves, the more capable they feel. Confidence is nurtured through our proven capabilities. When you encourage your child to do the things you know she can do, she begins to feel capable and confident of serving her own needs.
If you feel that your child is lacking in the confidence department, try these simple steps and let me know how they work for you. It is in the little actions that our kids take every day that confidence grows, bit by bit.
By providing her with choices, helping her speak in a manner that cultivates a sense of responsibility over her feelings, and encouraging her to do the things she is more than capable of doing for herself, you will gradually give your child experiences that will lead to greater self-confidence.