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Building Confidence in Children
Do you remember life as a child? Walking down the halls of middle school when none of your friends were around? Trying out for the soccer team? Going to camp for the first time? If you think about it, our children are put in many situations that require a lot of energy and an abundance of confidence. If you are like most moms, you watch your children blossom, hoping that they have the proper tools for tackling daily experiences with success.
A confident child is a resilient child who is able to navigate through life favorably. Our deepest desire is that our children will have confident personalities and the ability to manage their lives with ease. We hope they will have a strong sense of self that enables them to make solid decisions and good choices. And, we pray that they will have the necessary attributes for overcoming life’s difficult moments.
There are simple things moms can do to boost their children’s sense of self-worth and their confidence. The extra attention and deliberation will have a lasting impact well into our children’s futures.
“Self-esteem is the real magic wand that can form a child’s future.” (Stephanie Martson)
Parents often want to cushion their children from disappointment, pain, or failure. It is difficult to see our children feeling badly. Proper development of self comes from allowing your children to fully experience life, and esteem is heightened when a child makes it through a difficult situation. Letting your child experience failure is probably the most difficult, yet the most rewarding, gift you can give him.
“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand break on.” (Dr. Maxwell Maltz)
There is plenty of research to indicate that – on any given day – we utter more negative statements than we do positive ones. “Don’t run in the house.” “Stop hitting your sister.” “You may not have candy before dinner.” “How many times do I have to ask you to clean up your room?” When we make a conscious shift in the manner in which we speak to our children, we create a more positive environment in our homes. This small change can have a tremendous influence on a child’s wellbeing.
It is human nature to praise the outcome rather than the process. “What a beautiful picture you drew” sounds much different than “You worked so hard on this picture”. These statements are internalized in very different ways and send completely different messages to children. By learning to praise – or at least acknowledge – the process, our children will become adept at handling the outcome – no matter what it is. They will not question their work if we neglect to tell them how beautiful it is. They will appreciate their efforts and realize the value of their hard work.
Are you a role model for your child’s confidence? How do you know? Think of someone you might select as a role model who exudes confidence. What characteristics does that person possess? How do they treat others? How do they manage conflict? Our children watch us constantly, and they are taking mental notes. Let’s ensure that we are behaving as we would like them to. By identifying someone you believe is a role model of confidence, you will begin to recognize those characteristics within yourself.
“The most important key to the permanent enhancement of self-esteem is the practice of positive self-talk.” (Denis Waitley)
Teaching our children to treat themselves with kindness is another simple action we can do through modeling. Not only can we refrain from speaking in negative terms about ourselves (like saying “I’m such an idiot” after making a mistake), but we can help encourage positive speech. There is a website called Journal Buddies which provides many writing prompts on building self-esteem in children. Questions include: “What is your greatest talent?” and “Name 3 qualities you love about yourself”. Encouraging children to write or talk about these topics will help them formulate a solid sense of self. (It’s good for moms too!)
The conscious efforts we make to improve and enhance our children’s self-confidence will reap great rewards. How nice to send your children off into their futures without a worry! (only a slight exaggeration)
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