Have you noticed that confident people seem to be people who generally have good self-esteem and a high regard for themselves? A confident child exhibits the same potential.
And likewise, those with healthy self-esteem are usually pretty confident too.
As parents, we all want to raise an independent child who we don’t have to worry about when they finally walk out the door as a young adult.
There’s a lot you can do to nurture your child’s confidence and self-esteem.
Seven Ideas on How to Raise a Confident Child
# 1 – Listen. Really listen.
People with good self-esteem believe that what they have to say is valid and worth listening to. Listening to your child, actually fully listening and giving your undivided attention, is one of the most valuable things you can do to support your child’s self- esteem.
How often have you found yourself saying something like ‘umm, yeah carry on, I’m listening’ when you are actually busy doing something else or thinking about something else? I know I used to do that at times when my kids were young. (They just talk so much don’t they?)
But on the playground and in the classroom there are so many children all needing to be heard, and the quieter or less confident child can sometimes end up without a voice.
Make sure that at home your child’s voice is always heard, ask for their opinion on things and really listen to what they have to say.
#2 – Spend one-on-one time with your child
There is no better way to let the child know that they are an important and special person than by spending regular one-on-one time with them.
This might not always be easy, busy lives get in the way. If you have to, try scheduling the time in, tell your child you are looking forward to being with them and ask them what they would like to do.
Make sure you keep to the plan and do something that your child has chosen. It may be that it is something that you don’t particularly want to do.
Participate fully in the activity (no checking your phone).
For me, it was playing a very complicated game called ‘Warhammer’ I never really got to grips with the rules.
And when the time is over don't forget to say how much you enjoyed it.
Don’t worry if your child complains or even has a tantrum at this point. This behavior is telling you that your child enjoys your time together, it is valuable to them, they just don’t have the emotional maturity yet to express their disappointment in a more appropriate way.
# 3 – Encourage Independence
Stop doing everything for your children, and don’t micro-manage them. If your younger child can just about dress themselves in the morning but you always do it for them because it is quicker, stop doing it.
Encourage them to dress and praise them for doing it, you may need to give yourself more time in the mornings, but it will be worth it in the end.
If your older child asks you for a lift into town because they don’t know how to use the bus as you haven’t got around to teaching them, don’t keep putting it off.
Doing things that we find difficult or daunting, and succeeding at them can give a wonderful boost to self- esteem and confidence.
Give your child the opportunity to feel that boost.
#4 – Give Responsibility
I will never forget the look on my son’s face the first time he ran an errand for me and went to the local shop to buy some milk. There he was walking up the street towards home (I couldn’t stop myself from keeping a look out for him) swinging the milk around, striding purposefully with his head held high. Everything about that eight-year-old little boy at that moment said ‘I know what I’m doing, and I know where I’m heading.’
Fast forward to this summer just gone.
We dropped him off at the airport for what was to be the start of an epic adventure thousands of miles away from home. As I walked away I looked back over my shoulder to see if he would do the same.
He did, and as he waved and smiled at me for a fleeting moment I saw that confident little eight year old again, and I knew he would be alright.
Trust your child, and let them experience what it feels like to given responsibility.
#5 – Teach Problem-Solving
When your child has a problem it can be so tempting to try and help by ‘fixing’ it for them.
No parent likes to see their child struggling, but before you dive in with your advice, ask your child what they think they could do. If they don’t know, support them to come up with some solutions with you. Get into the habit of doing this every time there is a problem.
Role model problem solving yourself. At the dinner table talk about something difficult that you have overcome that day or that week, talk about the steps you took to solve the problem or talk through a problem you have (keep it age appropriate) and encourage your child to try out possible solutions when they have a problem.
#6 – Nurture Yourself
You are a very important role model for your child. Children absorb so much from watching others. If they see a parent putting themselves down or brushing away praise or being very self- critical, that is likely to become the behavior that they adopt.
If you do this frequently you may be inadvertently ‘teaching’ your child that thinking and speaking well of yourself is not a good thing to do.
Talk yourself up instead. Talk about your successes, however small, and tell your children what accomplishments you are most proud of.
#7 – Encourage Your Child
It may seem obvious, but never underestimate the value of encouraging your child. And I don’t mean the ‘Go on I’m sure you can do it you will be fine, just give it a go,’ sort of encouragement.
What if your child fails or doesn’t give it a go?
I ‘m talking about the sort of encouragement you can give when your child is really struggling:
‘You really tried hard to keep your balance, before you fell off, I’m proud of you.’
‘I know you find it really hard to read all the words by yourself, but even so, you tried and you’ve got through nearly a whole sentence without my help!’
My younger son used to hate answering the door or the phone, so on the occasions when he did do it we would say something like:
‘That was brave of you, you did it even though you didn’t want to, well done.’
Think how different this feels to ‘Don’t be so silly! There’s nothing to be scared of.’
If your child is finding something difficult imagine how it would feel to hear them say ‘It’s so hard, but I think I can work out a way to do it, I’m just going to keep trying.’
Life is full of challenges and disappointments
To be able to ride through the turbulent times and come out the other side without being swallowed up is never easy. But, if you have a mountain to climb, you are more likely to keep going and reach the top if you have a confident attitude, tenacious mindset, and an intrinsic faith in yourself.
The seeds of a positive ‘can do’ approach like this are sown in childhood.
More about the author:
Jane Rogers lives in the UK and is founder of The Cambridge Parent Coach. She is experienced in running a number of highly regarded parenting courses, and writes and runs her own workshops for parents, designed to help solve all those day-to-day parenting problems quickly and easily. She writes and runs workshops for parents and has many years of experience working with families. Jane is passionate about Positive Parenting and her aim is to share the ethos and ideas of this style of parenting in a way that is simple to understand, and easy to put into practice. To find out more about her work visit The Cambridge Parent Coach. Jane is currently adapting her workshops into workbooks for parents. The first workbook is available on Amazon and is titled: ‘How to Encourage Good behaviour, so you can Enjoy Your Children’.