Problem: We have 4 kids between the ages of 4 and 16. Giving them a confidence boost has been a challenge. They are all fairly sensitive, so I try to choose my words carefully. I’d like some suggestions on helping my kids gain more confidence and in general, feel better about themselves.
Insight: You bring up one of the most important tasks for parents – consistently letting their kids know that they are capable, loved, and worthy of attention. Since your kids’ self-esteem is based largely on your feedback; if you show you value them, they will generally feel good about themselves. However, if you concentrate on their faults (which is so easy to do) they will develop a poor self-image.
Strategies: Helping your kids gain self-confidence is something you can accomplish. The more confident your children become, the happier and emotionally healthier they’ll be. With patience, thoughtfulness, perseverance – and these “Do’s” and “Don’ts” – your kids will grow into confident adults.
Do- know that encouraging self-confidence is a continuous process that requires you to repeatedly tell – and show -your children that you appreciate and cherish them.
Don’t- neglect to give verbal rewards. Praise (in a genuine way) their accomplishments. Point out their talents and endearing traits – often! Talk about their capabilities and successes. Minimize their shortcomings.
Do- understand that the closer your kids are to adolescence, the more moments they will have of fleeting self-doubt. This is, in part, due to adolescence being a very self-conscious stage.
Don’t- express your frustration and disappointment by speaking harshly: “You’re such a slob.” “Why can’t you be like your sister?” “What’s wrong with you?” Why don’t you speak up?” “You’ll never get to college at this rate.” These statements will only contribute to your kids believing they can never please you, be good enough or live up to your standards.
Do- consider that a poor self-image is hard to hide. Kids are good at putting themselves down: “I can’t.” “I’m no good.” ” I’m the worst on the team.” You can also tell a lot from body language, especially when kids don’t make eye contact or carry themselves in anxious and overly self-conscious ways.
Don’t- underestimate the power of encouragement. Offer a lot of support when your kids take (positive) risks – trying out for a school play, a team, or reaching out to help a neighbor. Help them find activities they can succeed in. Encourage them to pursue their goals and special interests – whether in computers, music, art, dance. Involve them in community service; they’ll feel good about helping others.
Do- discuss issues that may contribute to a lack of confidence: “Would being taller really make you a better person?” “What’s wrong with being shy?”
Don’t- forget the importance of helping your kids feel better about their abilities as students. Help them with difficult lessons and assignments and consider hiring a tutor if you think it would help. Teach them that skills can be developed, that persistence pays off, and if they work hard, they can have control over their successes in live.
Do- think about your own upbringing. Some parents who speak negatively to their kids were criticized as children and may have grown up with a lack of confidence. Even though they once struggled against harsh words and treatment, they repeat the pattern with their own children. Are you doing this?
Don’t- hesitate to get help from their school counselor or a therapist if your kids show signs of struggling with friendships, competing excessively with their peers or siblings, misbehave and don’t work up to their ability in school.
Do- teach your kids coping skills and problem solving techniques they can use during times of failure and disappointment. Teach them that frustration can be worked through. Inspire them so they can see the bigger picture with a sense of optimism.
Bottom Line: It always happens. Once you start treating your kids in positive ways, their behavior and attitudes change. As they begin to feel better about themselves, you will notice them treating their friends – and even you – in nicer ways. In all areas of their lives, improved confidence and self-esteem will help your kids feel happier, more satisfied, and more successful. What other motivation do you need to go forward with these “Do’s” and “Don’ts?” Your efforts will pay off. Don’t waste time. Start, NOW!