As parents, it’s natural to want our children to grow up to achieve the best they can, fulfilling their potential, whatever it may be.
Key to this is raising happy and confident children. But this doesn’t happen overnight. It’s about developing a positive mindset that encourages children to be independent thinkers, recognising their efforts, giving them praise and encouragement along the way.
Here’s just a few ways in which parents can nurture their children to grow up with a healthy level of self-confidence.
Praise them the right way
It can be a challenge to find the right balance when it comes to praising your child. From taking part in daily sport to playing nicely with siblings. But one of the more effective ways of praising your child is doing so when they have done something correctly.
Try and be specific too. For instance, during a game of football instead of saying ‘well done on getting a goal’, perhaps say ‘well done on preserving and staying focused.’ Helping children to learn from a young age that it’s their effort and not outcome that is rewarded will help grow their self-confidence.
Make feedback meaningful
In its simplest form, praise is feedback, and this is something that children heavily rely on from adults. But research suggests that the ‘quality’ of the feedback is far more important than the quantity of it. This in turn can help your child learn from setbacks as well as successes.
To give meaningful feedback, first pick your battles. It will be more meaningful if you don’t overdo it, and also recognise the value of their efforts and hard work. Children can easily detect insincerity.
In keeping with a positive mindset, try and keep feedback upbeat. For instance, if a child doesn’t win in a competition, praise them for taking part and their contribution as much as anything else.
One way of building resilience is to encourage independence. Part of this is to allow your child the space and freedom to use their own judgement in making decisions. This can be as small as from deciding they outfit they want to wear for the day, to the daily sport activities they do, or sports teams they join. Affording your child this opportunity will help grow confidence in their own abilities.
Be a role model
We’ve all heard the saying ‘Be the change’ and this couldn’t be truer of parenting. Children naturally look up to their parents as role models, developing their sense of place in the world and how to deal with situations based on their personal experiences.
Many parents say that they often hear themselves in their child – this is the perfect indicator of your child adopting your ways. As such, it’s a responsibility to remember that your outlook, positive mindset and view on the world helps to shape theirs.
Use this to your advantage by setting a positive example. In times of stress of frustration, show your child that you can deal with issues in a calm and thoughtful way.
Problem solving is a learnt skill. This means that the more it’s practiced, the better we are at dealing with problems and finding solutions. To give your child a head start, help them solve their own problems.
To be clear, it’s about guiding them and supporting them and not solving problems for them. In doing so, you’ll help increase self-confidence in their own abilities.
A healthy self-image is important for your child’s self-esteem. Children with a positive view of themselves are more confident and feel good about themselves. This is important in every part of life, from their working relationships to personal relationships. Therefore, helping your child to believe in themselves from a young age is paramount.
Don’t be too controlling
If you’re a helicopter parent (the sort that hovers around their child), this one might be particularly challenging!
It’s important to allow your child the freedom to grow and develop. As a parent, don’t seek to control everything they do. Instead chose the opportunities where you can ‘let go’ and empower them to make their own decisions. You will both be enriched and rewarded for doing so.
It’s good to allow your child to feel proud of what they have achieved. It’ a very British disease to feel that we shouldn’t shout about our achievements or underplay our successes. But there’s much we can learn from our American counterparts here; being proud of and owning our triumphs is something they do with a certain aplomb.
When building self-confidence in your child, encourage them to be proud of their achievements.
Children are still on a learning curve even well into their teenage years. Constructive criticism is an important way in helping your child understand how to learn from setbacks and mistakes. But there’s a difference in shouting at your child for failing, versus asking them to reflect on their performance and thinking about what they could have done better.
This is just one technique that sports coaches apply to athletes, helping them to enhance their output, while learning from their mistakes to build resilience.
Look for opportunities
While it’s important for your child to experience the highs of success and lows of failure, you can assist this in some way.
It’s easy to make opportunities for your child to experience success. For instance, find something they are good at and test them on it. This will help grow their sense of self-worth and help develop a positive mindset at the same time.
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