The kids who ask questions in class, stand up to a bully, excel in sports, or take on hard classes tend to ray with self-confidence and self-efficacy. Let`s discuss three easy parenting strategies you can employ today to boost confidence in your kids.
Definition of Self-Confidence
According to Google, self-confidence is a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities and judgment.
What are some symptoms of lacking self-confidence in kids you need to know:
- Hesitance, doubts about your own abilities to face, cautious
- Feeling unsure, insecure, humble, self-distrustful
- Continuously seek validation from others, reluctant to make decisions
- Feeling fearful about making a mistake, unwilling to take on stretch assignments
- Tend to hang on to bad relationships for a fear of being alone
- Being obedient and always follow directions and listen to their parents
I would argue that lack of confidence starts in early childhood, at home and can be directly influenced by your parenting style.
Trick #1: Let go, stop worrying and hovering
When my first daughter was born I held her all the time. I worried she would get hurt, swallow something, roll over the bed, or even get upset. I turned my house into 100% child-proof, super safe space, with stair gates, padded corners, and soft toys. I asked visitors to wash hands before holding her and avoid coming over if they had any viral infections.
Some of my concerns were warranted and normal, but it also made me very anxious and made my kid very nervous and self-doubting. The message is was sending was this: the world is not SAFE, watch out!
Honestly, I did feel the world was not a safe place and something could happen to her anytime. I drove myself nuts and my little one was growing up quite shy and self-doubting.
When Meila was 3.5 years old I started attending University full time and had to leave her with her grandmother or my spouse for a longer period of time. At about the same time she started her part-time pre-school. My daughter could not speak English very well and that really diminished her confidence even further.
I was worried sick, how she will do in pre-school since she could not even speak. To my surprise, in the short 5 weeks, Meila started speaking English fluently, met new friends and learned a few new social skills. Her teachers loved her and I got to see how my kid started to blossom. I recall it vividly how I was still very worried about someone hurting her at pre-school and wanted to withdraw her but my spouse insisted that she continues. My daughter grew stronger and more confident every day.
Today, my daughter is a beautiful, smart and sassy 14 old young lady, attending a charter school, taking college-level courses in 9th grade, drives a car, and beams with confidence and pizazz. I hardly can believe how much she has changed, and I think letting her go a little had a lot to do with it.
Conclusion: It may sound nuts, but your spouse, your in-laws, and your trusted nanny can help you to get a break and do a great deal to boost your kids confidence level. When you trust your kids with someone else, your kids learn to trust that others, including themselves, can take care of their needs.
Trick #2: Allow your kids to learn by facing challenges
I grew up doing my own thing. My parents allowed me to do almost anything. I do not recall that my parents were in a hurry to solve my issues. I recall signing myself up for activities, as young as 7-8 years old, commuting back and forth to my events, and resolving my conflicts at school. In fact, my mom refused to go to school conferences since she did not want to listen to teachers complaining about my bad behavior. My grades were good but my behavior grades were not.
Thinking back about what my parents did and did not do I realize that by allowing me to do many things other parents did for their kids, I gain a lot of cool skills, very early. Such as how to deal with angry teachers, bullies at school and bad grades on my own. Was it all perfect? No! but it worked out well. Thank you, mom and dad!
Just like my parents, with our kids, we try to be a lot more laid back, and less involved in fixing their problems. In fact, when they have challenges at school they want us to listen when they share. And they do talk about the issues, only if me and Paul to be a sounding board. Kids hate when we give advice or even share our opinion on things! They get offended when we try to “fix” situations and “butting in” to seek solutions. It is annoying, at times, but I think it is a good long term. We teach them to trust their judgment and be independent, instead of coming to parents all the time.
Conclusion: all three of our kids are smart, stubborn and at times hard to manage, and they are highly self-confident individuals. They truly believe they got what it takes to address their challenges and they don’t need us to save them.
Trick #3: Provide unscheduled time and space for exploration and mastery
I like it when kids are busy, developing their beautiful brains, playing, doing something. I don’t sit still myself and not a huge fan of them sitting around or staring at the TV or other screens. Now, our kids think otherwise and over the years I learned to appreciate the fact that their childhood is very different from theirs. I grew up playing outside with my friends, they are growing up playing inside with dozens of kids in Minecraft or other computer games from all over America.
Your kids are going to grow up in a completely different environment than you and me, they also will need a completely different set of skills than you and i. Technology is everywhere, and they are a very digitally savvy generation. This I how they learn, through games, apps and other digitally unable means.
My oldest son (9 years old) spent the entire summer on his PC, and we continuously fought over it and by fall we found out that he completed 2 years’ worth of math classes online! I had no idea he likes math this much. He also built his own highly complex game program in Minecraft that involved coding. When he shared his creation I could not figure out where he learned it, so I asked. Meisha said:” Mom, I found this really cool videos on YouTube, and the guy has videos on how to code!”. I was stunned.
Conclusion: Our kids are smarter than they look and smarter then we are. Yes, they are young and they lack basic survival skills, BUT they feel and intuit many things we do not.
When we create time and space for them to self-develop they take the opportunity to learn by studying what they want. By mastering their skills and becoming good at something of their choosing they gain confidence in their own abilities and become stronger and more resilient to failure.
My story: Every night I check on our youngest son after he falls asleep. I sneak into his room, sit on his bed and adore watching his peaceful face. I see a little 5 year old boy, who has thoughts, ideas, talents and dreams. I only pray that God will give me enough wisdom to SEE what he sees and support his journey of discovery, without intruding too much.
He scares me at times, and it takes all I have to realize, he got this… and let go. It takes all I have to remember that my job as a parent Is not to raise a boy but witness and support the miracle of the little guy turning into a self-confident and fearless man.
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