This article was originally published on www.drsueandyou.com
It’s Friday and what a week it has been. Running around for work and making sure I was at both kids Valentine’s parties. I’m sure you know that hurried feeling. As I was walking into my daughter’s classroom, one of the mothers stopped me in the hall and asked if she could speak with me for a moment. I agreed and she said that she thought her daughter was struggling with her self-confidence around the other girls. She asked me if I had any suggestions and I told her to call me during the week.
Self-confidence in children is a critical issue of development. Parents often wonder, “How can I help my child build confidence?” I wish there was one simple answer to this question, but unfortunately, there is not. There are, however, several steps that you can take to help increase your child’s confidence from a very early age. For example, I noticed that at the age of 4 my son was very interested in sports. He would watch football on television for hours at a time and would pick up any ball that we had in the house and want to have a catch. My husband and I took his actions as a sign that he may be interested in playing sports, so we asked him if he would like to play flag football. His little face lit up and he agreed to play. My son is now 9 years old and now plays tackle football. I am sharing this story with you to demonstrate how important it is for parents to “tune in” to what their kids are interested in and foster their passions. It does not only have to be sports; it can be anything that interests your child, such as art, computers, dance, etc. With that being said, it is critically important that you do not force your own passions onto your children – it will not build confidence but it will create resentment. Let your child be your guide to what they enjoy.
Here are 4 helpful tips for building your child’s confidence:
Over-complimenting our children early on in their development is necessary to help them master such skills as crawling, walking or talking. However, when children become older, compliments should not be given for all of their actions. For example, every time they get dressed by themselves, you do not have to say “great job.” If we give compliments for every little thing that they do, they will not realize when they should be praised for a big accomplishment. This by no means suggests that you should not give positive feedback to your children about things that they do, rather it suggests just toning down the compliments you give for things that you expect them to do.
Refrain from Rescuing Your Child
When we suspect our child is hurting, we want to take away their pain. It is natural to feel this way. However, when your child is not invited to a birthday party that you think she should be included in and you call the other child’s parents, you are not helping your child. According to Robert Brooks, Ph.D., coauthor of Raising Resilient Children, “…kids need to know that it’s okay to fail and that it’s normal to feel sad, anxious, or angry. They learn to succeed by overcoming obstacles, not by having you remove them.” In addition, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Temple University notes, “It’s particularly important for young children to have the chance to play and take risks without feeling that their parents will criticize or correct them for doing something wrong.” She even encourages parents to make their own little mistakes on purpose. “Seeing you mess up and not make a big deal about it will make little kids feel so much better,” she adds.
Let your Child make Decisions
When your child gets the chance to develop their own voice and make choices from a young age, he’ll gain confidence in his own good judgment. Of course, kids love to have a say in everything that they do, but having too much control can be overwhelming; it’s best to give your child two or three options to choose from. When they are able to have limits, it is easier for them to make a decision that they feel good about.
Improve your own confidence
A child’s self-esteem is acquired, not inherited. Children build their self-esteem through their experiences with their family and their outside world. If you suffer from low self-confidence, especially if you feel it’s a result of how you were parented, take steps to heal yourself. Remember we are our children’s first and best role models.
About Dr. Sue
Dr. Sue Cornbluth is a nationally recognized parenting expert in high conflict parenting situations. She is a regular mental health contributor for an array of networks and television shows such as NBC, FOX and CBS. Dr. Sue has also contributed to several national publications. Her new best-selling book, “Building Self Esteem in Children and Teens who are Adopted or Fostered is available now.