Confidence is a key that unlocks so many doors. As parents, it’s one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids, but in the modern world, it’s a gift that’s notoriously hard to give. Children who lack confidence can go on to be adults who are afraid of trying new things, meeting new people or putting themselves in challenging situations, which can hold them back in the future. So what can we do to make sure we’re raising confident kids?
Confidence is a key part of a child’s development. It’s important for a child’s future prospects, impacting happiness, health and success. Confident children are better equipped to deal with responsibility, frustrations, challenges and emotions – both positive and negative. As parents, carers and guardians, those we raise look to us for the building blocks that will create the foundations of their confidence. It’s our job to encourage and support them a they take on difficult tasks, taking on the enemies of confidence – discouragement and fear. And there are so many ways we can do just that.
We’ve pulled together nine of our top tips.
#1: Make time for play and creativity
Play is a huge way for your child to build their confidence, especially when you’re able to do it with them. If you’re able to fully invest in playtime with your child, it sends the message that they are worthy and valuable. Shared imagination and creativity goes a long way towards raising confident kids, as well as bringing you closer together and creating powerful bonds. Play also gives kids the chance to practice their independence, freedom and decision making skills, which all adds up to better confidence.
#2: Give them jobs so they can feel valued
While they might groan and moan about being given chores, children (much like adults) need opportunities to display their skills and feel that their contribution is valued. Giving them jobs around the house is a great way to do that. Age appropriate jobs like setting the table, running the hoover round, tidying up after themselves, doing the dishes, washing the car, folding washing, dusting or gardening are all ideal, especially when teamed with appropriate levels of gratitude and praise. Remember, kids are basically just tiny adults and we all like to feel fulfilled and appreciated.
#3: Provide encouragement often
When was the last time someone told you they believed in you? Or told you you’d done a good job? Or said you could do something you weren’t so sure you could? How did that make you feel? When we’re trying to raise confident kids, encouragement is a key tool in our arsenal. It’s the perfect confidence booster for tiny humans and should be rolled out on the regular. Remember that there’s a big difference between encouragement and praise though. Praise comes with caveats of a job well done, whereas encouragement is simply about acknowledging effort, regardless of outcome.
#4: Encourage practice
Encouraging practice builds competence. When kids feel competent at something, their confidence naturally builds and that confidence rolls out into other areas of their lives. Let them practice whatever they want to But when you encourage that practice, do it without applying too much pressure. No-one really wants to be that Soccer-Mom type parent who shouts on the sidelines, but encouraging your child to practice something they love will help them learn that with hard work comes improvement, and when they see those improvements, they’ll get the warm fuzzies inside.
#5: Let them figure out problems
When we’re working to raise confident kids, letting them problem solve is an easy win. If you do the hard-work of always solving their difficulties, they’ll never develop the skills or confidence to do it themselves. Allowing your child the opportunity to solve problems in a supported and supportive environment will give them the confidence to do more of the same as they navigate their life.
#6: Encourage curiosity
Yes curiosity may have killed the cat, but encouraging it in children allows them to think about the world beyond what they know. An endless stream of questions may be frustrating and, at times, deeply irritating, but a curious mind will lead to greater confidence. By allowing your children to be curious and explore, you teach them confidence and appreciation. You also show them the world and teach them the value of experiences over things. Curiosity will always open doors to new and exciting paths that are chocca with adventure and more opportunities to learn.
#7: Treat mistakes as building blocks for learning
Mistakes happen, especially when you’re learning the ways of the world. Confident people don’t let fear of failure get in the way of them doing something – and when failure happens, confident people use those failures as building blocks for trying again or doing more in the future. When we’re raising confident kids, teaching them that we can use “failure” as a way to move forward, rather than something to berate ourselves with will ultimately lead to them trying more things and taking any setbacks in their stride. Don’t be too overprotective – let your kids try and mess up sometimes. It’ll do them good in the long run.
#8: Surround them with confident people
Strong adult role models go a long way to raising confident kids, so it’s important to surround your children with people who demonstrate what it is to be a confident grown-up. The more a child is around positive, confident individuals, the likelier they are to become confident and positive individuals themselves. And this goes for their pals too – try to encourage your children to be friends with people who raise them up rather than tear them down. All of these relationships will do wonders for encouraging their own confidence.
#9: Build your own confidence
And last but by no means least (arguably, this is one of the most important), we know kids mimic their parents behaviour, so taking time to work on your own confidence is key. If you don’t feel especially confident, it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight, but concentrate on speaking about yourself positively in your child’s presence. Tackle tasks with optimism and enthusiasm where you can, celebrate your own victories and celebrate yourself when you deserve it. You don’t have to be perfect and positive all the time – that’s not real life! Just do your best to be the person you want your little one to look up to.