Confidence is about trusting your own capabilities. It doesn’t mean you know what to do or how to do it; it means that you trust yourself enough to try.
Children need confidence in order to take risks and find out who they are and their special gifts. Children build confidence by praise given to them by family, teachers and even friends but they also build confidence as they accomplish goals that they may have not thought they could accomplish.
These are few techniques that can support building confidence in our children.
1. Model confidence! Tackles challenges with optimism and a can-do-it attitude. Children can sense if we are willing to try and when we have given up on ourselves. Modeling confidence does not mean that we do not have anxieties. It means that despite them, we believe in ourselves enough to try. And it is okay to share your fears; this gives children permission to feel what they feel and still try something new or challenging.
2. Many parents measure success in grades or awards etc. Not all children are A students or are athletic or ... fill in the blank. For those children, we crush confidence with pushing them to get better when their best efforts will not produce the outcomes aligned with what we claim as success. We need to know our children’s strengths and areas in need of support. This way we can celebrate approximations and perseverance, especially when we know how challenging it is.
3. Challenges are important and good for children to be pushed. When children master a skill or complete a task that was highly unlikely, they begin to trust and push themselves even more. However, challenges which can cause stress must be balanced with activities that are aligned to building both their passions and confidence.
Sidenote: This does not mean that we should have low expectations. This type of thinking stunts growth but it does mean that if your child consistently cannot meet an expectation, he or she needs support in order to do so, not criticism.
4. Accepting disappointments and failures are part of life for all of us. However, when our children fail, we often have a difficult time accepting it and can play the blame game with them. Avoid adding more guilt or shame to an already disappointing situation. Sometimes the failure itself, is a way to help children build resilience and for you to identify what supports a child might need.
5. Watch language around failures and disappointments… “but you are so smart”, “but you are so athletic”, “but you are so pretty”. This type of language makes intrinsic qualities contingent on the outcome and may have children questioning their abilities.
6. The opposite of parent who guilts children are the parents who so desperately want to protect their children from failures that they want to control everything, to the point that they might prevent children from trying new things. My motto- double negative on purpose- Don’t not try something because you are afraid to fail! Children and adults need to see that sometimes the greatest challenge of something new is the fear of something new.
7. Encourage children to chase their curiosity. What else do you want to explore? What are your passions? These questions will likely lead to experiences that build confidence. Support children in seeking to find what they love. And what someone loves may be different from what they are good at. Even when a child is great at math or science, it does mean they want to become an engineer or a doctor. Perhaps they love music or art. Encourage ways in which they can continue to seek growth in their area of passion by setting new goals for themselves.
And remember, it is always about building relationship. Building confidence is another way to build relationship by giving encouragement, showing support and loving your child just as he/she is.