If you are like most parents, you probably want to raise a confident child. The first step in this process begins with understanding the concept of a “sense of self.”
Defining “Sense of Self”
Around the age of two, kids began to develop their own sense of self and they continue developing a stronger sense of who they are as they get older and learn more about their bodies and brains.
They become aware of what they are good at and what they struggle with and, over time, this running list of strengths and weaknesses translates into a sense of self-confidence.
The way a child feels about his or herself impacts everything that they do. Studies have found that kids who believe in themselves take more risks, accomplish their goals, push through challenges, and achieve wonderful things in life.
Thankfully, confidence, like any other character trait, can be developed and fostered.
Here are some easy ways to help develop your kid’s self-confidence:
Take a back seat.When your kids are feeling frustrated with a task, it can be really tempting to jump in and fix the situation for them. However, consistently fixing things for them takes away from great learning experiences.
Allow them to try to fix it on their own before guiding them through the problem. Stand by as they are trying to problem-solve the task with helpful words of encouragement, rather than solutions. This shows your kids that you are there for help, but that they can learn to be competent in doing things on their own.
Praise the effort as well as the accomplishments.Let your kids know how important effort and working hard is when it comes to accomplishing goals. The best kind of praise highlights all the little steps they take on their way to mastering a task.
Congratulate the time and effort studying, that leads to a good grade on a task-rather than just praising the “A.” Encourage them for working hard even if they are struggling along the way. Over time, hard work and motivation lead to confidence.
Mistakes are just chances for learning.It’s normal to want to over-look mistakes kids make to avoid focusing on the negative. However, finding a way to make mistakes into teachable moments can help your kids feel more confident to face the same problem in the future.
Talk about what they could do differently the next time they face this issue to create problem-solving opportunities. For example, instead of just asking your kid to clean up their spilled drink, talk about how they could avoid making a mess next time by holding it over the sink or pouring slowly.
Be a confidence model.Kids learn how to handle disappointments and accomplishments from watching their parents and caregivers. Reward or praise yourself out loud when you do something well at home or at work. Instead of being hard on yourself when you forget something or aren’t able to do a task well, talk about how hard you tried and what you could do differently in the future.
Acknowledge the fact that sometimes things are hard for you too, and then show them how you keep going even when things are hard. You can even set aside some time to talk about confidence as a family to get everyone involved!
Laura Lebovitz, LMFT