30-Day Confidence Boost – A Guide for Parents to Help Teach Kids to be More Confident
Is your child full of confidence, or is he hesitant, unsure of his place in the world, and crippled by shyness? All kids are different. Some are bold and confident, whereas others need to be encouraged and reassured that they can do anything they set their mind to.
One of the parent’s jobs is to build up their child’s self-esteem. By making them feel good about themselves, you are equipping them with an essential tool – one that will help them navigate the tricky waters of childhood and adolescence and, eventually, adulthood.
Why Self-Confidence is So Important
Self-confidence is the gift that keeps on giving. A lack of confidence is paralyzing; it holds us back. If a child doesn’t believe in himself, he won’t have the courage to face his fears. This won’t only affect him during childhood and adolescence – it will also stay with him into adulthood. And as we all know, a lack of self-confidence in adulthood can be crippling.
The world’s most successful people are blessed with self-confidence in spades. They stand up for themselves. They say “yes” to opportunities. They have drive and ambition, which pushes them to try new ideas, even when everyone around them thinks they’re crazy. They set the bar high and work hard to attain their goals. Confident, successful people don’t let fear dictate their life. They believe in their own abilities.
Does Your Child Lack Self-Confidence?
Self-confident kids are happy, outgoing, and ready to tackle life head-on. Kids that lack confidence are their polar opposite.
- If your child is low on self-confidence, he will find it hard to make friends because he doesn’t feel ‘worthy’ of another kid’s attention. He may prefer to play alone rather than risk rejection in a group play setting.
- A child with self-esteem issues often finds it hard to be sociable, even with family. They might hide in their room rather than engaging. This behavior should not be encouraged.
- Kids low on confidence don’t like to try new things because of “learned helplessness.” When things go wrong, they can’t cope with failure, which reinforces the belief that trying something new is a bad idea.
- A child with low self-esteem is ripe for abuse by friends and predatory people because they don’t have the same boundaries as a confident child. They don’t understand that they can say ‘no’ to something they don’t like or want to do.
- Does your child have a habit of exaggerating? If so, he probably lacks self-confidence. Inflating our achievements to make us feel more important is a classic sign of someone with low self-esteem.
Be alert to the signs of low self-esteem, but before you devise a strategy to help your child, it’s time for some self-analysis.
Are You Hampering Your Child’s Development?
Many parents are the direct cause of their child’s lack of self-confidence. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but if your parenting style is over-protective and hyper-aggressive, you could be doing more harm than good.
Think about how you parent your children. Do you hover over them at all times, ready to jump in and save them from a terrible fate? Do you micro-manage their lives, from organizing after-school activities that take up every spare minute to deciding who they can be friends with?
If you are guilty of any of these sins, you are probably a helicopter parent.
The Perils of Over-Protective Parents
Some would argue that their low self-confidence could be due to helicopter parenting. These parents are overprotective and unable to stop meddling in their child’s life, even after they reach adulthood. We all know a mom or dad who cossets their little darling to the point of smothering them to death. Some also go as far as completing their child’s college application!
Don’t be that parent. Kids must be left to make their own mistakes. It’s the only way they learn the skills they need to forge a path into adulthood.
How to Build Self-Confidence in a Child
There are a few ways to build-self confidence in your child, and just as the title suggests, let’s dive into how you can boost your child’s self-confidence over the next 30 days.
Week 0: Begin by loving your child.
Before kicking anything off, it’s essential to set the overall tone that kids need to feel loved and cherished, but your love must be unconditional.
Make sure through this entire process and beyond that; they understand that you love them no matter what. You may be their parent, but you are not infallible, so if you are having a bad day and scream at them for no reason, apologize.
Your child won’t ever feel confident if he’s always tip-toeing around you, scared to death that saying the wrong thing will trigger ‘scary mom.’
As we go through each week, keep this in mind when you’re frustrated, when your child is frustrated. Always let them know you love them.
Week 1: Give praise where praise is due.
Your child deserves to be praised when he does something awesome, such as achieving top marks in a test or scoring the winning goal for his team. But, overpraising does more harm than good. If you tell your child he’s amazing all the time; he will start to think he doesn’t need to push himself. He’ll also discover eventually that he’s not the most amazing kid who ever walked the planet, which could turn out to be a real shock. If all you do is praise your child, after a while, he’ll stop believing you when you praise him, which will eventually erode his self-confidence.
What are some good ways to give praise, where praise is due? The best way to give praise is framed as encouragement or ‘genuine’ praise. Here are a few examples:
- I like the combination of patterns you chose to wear today.
- You really stuck with that – your hard work paid off.
- I can tell you’re working hard on reading because you finished a longer book.
- The colors you chose for that sunset are unique.
- That was the first time you’ve jumped rope without stumbling.
- I appreciate the way you organized the shelf; it makes it easier to find everything.
Week 2: Give your child space to make his own mistakes.
Children learn from their mistakes. It’s how they work out how to do things the right way, and by going through this process, they become more resilient and capable.
It’s not always easy watching your child make mistakes, but ultimately, it’s the right thing to do as a parent. So, if your child insists on playing outside without a coat on a freezing cold day, let him figure out the hard way that it was a bad decision.
By letting your child take responsibility for his mistakes, you are giving him control over his own body. Control is a powerful thing. Being in control will help him to feel more confident.
What are the ways you can help your child and yourself be okay with them making mistakes?
- Ask yourself, is it really a mistake? A child’s picture of success is different from a parent, so be careful not to impose your values on them. That airplane model your child built with all the parts attached wrong, you may see mistakes, but they see something they’re proud of.
- Let your child know it’s alright to make mistakes, that they do not have to be perfect and that making mistakes is part of being human.
- Help them see the mistake they made and how they can avoid it in the future.
- Teach them to be kind to themselves whenever they make a mistake. Be supportive and emphasize that it’s a learning experience.
- Finally, be a role model! Be kind and forgiving to yourself when you make mistakes.
Week 3: Let your child demonstrate his competence in simple tasks.
As a parent, it is tempting to do everything for a child, from making sure their sports kit is clean to preparing simple snacks. Don’t be in such a rush to do these chores for your child. Let him take responsibility for a few chores. This helps a child to feel like their contribution is valuable. And it is!
What are some ways to give your children more independence over what they do? Here are some techniques that may help:
- Firstly, stop doing everything for your kids. Yes, that simple. Ask yourself: Can they dress themselves? Can they get a drink on their own? Can they clear up their plate? Can they do at least one family chore? Can they do their school projects? If not, should they be? Can this be an opportunity for you to teach them how to do it instead of doing it for them?
- Set new expectations. Let your kids know as they get older; they will have to do more and more things themselves. A good example is shifting from making packed lunch for your child to teaching them to make it themselves. Here, what’s important is communicating that the reason you’re asking them to do it themselves is to grow their ability to take care of themselves, not because you’re lazy or cause you don’t care about them.
- Make it easy for them to succeed. Once you set expectations, make the task a bit easier. For example, keep snacks that they are allowed to eat on a low shelf or have laundry baskets in each room.
- Continually reassess what your kids are capable of doing themselves. Remember, skill-building never ends!
Week 4: Give your child the freedom to pursue his interests.
Not all kids like sports, and not all kids are a math genius. The important thing is that you let your child pursue things that interest him, even if you would be much happier if he were playing sports or acing a math test.
Try a few of these strategies to support your child through self-exploration and the pursuit of passion:
- Know your child’s unique interests. Kids are often plugged into the same sports and activities like other kids. However, take the time to know and understand your child’s interests here. Are they interested in something else? Observe your child at play, ask open-ended questions, and listen when your child shares his or her dreams.
- Think outside the box. As parents, we tend to lean on organized sports or enrichment classes, but passion can play out right in your own home! Building, knitting, cooking all can be done without structure and guided intention. Worry less about building your child’s resume, and pay attention to what makes them thrive, help them find their unique interests.
- Nurture optimism. We live in a competitive world, and children experience a significant amount of pressure to perform. Take learnings from Week 2 and 3 and reinforce them here when it comes to their interests so that they don’t feel defeated or anxious when they try and pursue it.
Ultimately, 30 days is just the beginning, and boosting your child’s self-confidence is a journey. One effective way to continuously build their confidence is to enroll them in programs or classes that enable this. An excellent example that we’ll dive into below is Martial Arts.
How Martial Arts Can Help Boost Your Child’s Confidence
Enrolling your child in a martial arts class is an excellent way to boost their self-confidence. Choose a martial arts class they feel comfortable with, such as Karate or Ju-Jitsu. Go along with them to the first session, to help them settle in, and then let them find their feet in the safe environment of a dojo.
Martial arts are all about respect. Students and teachers show each other respect at all times. This is a valuable lesson for a child who lacks confidence. Attending a martial arts class will teach them the value of respect. They will be treated as equals by their peers and the class leader, which can go a long way towards boosting a child’s fragile self-esteem.
Don’t underestimate the importance of teaching a child how to defend himself or herself, either. Schools can be brutal places. Kids with low self-esteem are often the target of vicious bullies. Such obnoxious behavior may begin at a young age, and escalate as a child gets older. By giving your child the tools to defend themselves in a non-aggressive way, it will improve their self-confidence, which in turn will make them less likely to be targeted.
Kids are allowed to make mistakes in a martial arts class. A dojo is a safe place where children are not judged for getting things wrong. A good Sensei will encourage your child to feel good about their achievements, which in turn reinforces their self-confidence.
By working focusing on each week and working through the points above, your child will become a self-confident little soul who is more than capable of dealing with whatever life throws at them. Remember, you aim to raise a child who feels loved and valued, even when they make mistakes, pursues passions with confidence, and develops into a fulfilled, independent adult!