This is a guest post written by Liv from Naturally Made Mom.
Raising confident children is a top priority to most parents. But do you ever feel so bogged down by the daily ins and outs of life, it feels like you are merely surviving instead of sharing life-shaping experiences?
Instilling confidence in kids is a lot like investing. Small deposits made over years leaves you with a large pot of cash capable of sustaining you for the rest of your life. In the same sense, it’s the small daily actions we take as parents that foster confidence in children.
It takes years past the age 18 to help a child develop into an adult who is prepared to take on the world and make wise decisions. Over time, what happens over the dinner table and weekend afternoons ultimately leads to raising up a child who has profound self-worth.
Most confidence-boosting experiences are actually the simple things you are already doing and may not realize it. In this post we will highlight 7 things you can do each day to increase your children’s self-esteem and build a foundation that develops into self-confidence.
To build confidence in others, we must first be confident in ourselves.
Raising confident children is nearly impossible if you are not confident yourself. Therefore, before we get in to the specific daily methods we will use to build self-confidence in our children, we must first look within.
We should understand our own limitations and where we are personally, starting with our self-esteem.
When was the last time you tried something new that you found difficult? How did it go? Did you get easily frustrated when you didn’t know how to do it? Are you naturally shy and feel intimidated when you meet new people? These are some things to consider.
I have introverted tendencies and am naturally shy at first. Sometimes when my son and I are going on a walk he wants to stop at a park where there are other families. I often want to pass this chance up altogether because it means I may have to make small talk with other moms. My first thoughts tend to be, what if they think I am weird or don’t want to talk to me.
I don’t want my son to grow up with fears of relating to other people, so when my internal monologue happens, I take a deep breath, swallow my timid feelings, and put a smile on my face while we stop at that park.
To teach something well, we must first know how to do it. So, I challenge you to occasionally work on your own self-confidence. This will ultimately make you a better example for your children!
Alright, let’s look at some things within our realm of control that can lead to raising confident children.
How to Build Self-Confidence in a Child
1. Practice Mindful Parenting
Mindful parenting is a daily practice where you have an awareness of your how your emotions drive your actions around your children. Then you make a conscious choice on how you want to act, often after taking a deep breath and considering the possibilities.
Studies have shown that mindful parenting can decrease emotional problems in young adults.
Being a mindful parent doesn’t mean you are perfect or always cool and collected. It means that instead of always letting your emotions control you, you practice the art of controlling your mind.
The more you practice control over your reactions, the easier it gets. By doing this, you will develop a deep trust with your children. When a stressful situation presents itself, you are their guiding light because your children know without a doubt their Mom and Dad can handle it.
Your presence will bring a calming peacefulness that allows your children to take risks and get out of their comfort zone because they see you in their periphery.
Some simple ways to practice mindful parenting include:
- Name your emotions out loud so you can recognize the power they attempt to have over you
- Pause to take deep calming breaths before acting
- Listen attentively to your child even if they are whining to find the meaning behind their emotions
- Provide positive solutions for the problem at hand
- Choose to display positive emotions in front of your kids to the best of your ability
2. Do Confidence Building Activities for Kids
You know that old saying, practice makes perfect. I think all humans strive for mastery.
It took me years to develop my IV skills as a nurse. I used to be so nervous but after I developed mastery in this area, I felt great pride when other nurses would ask me to help them get IVs for their patients. It felt even better when patients told me it didn’t hurt.
It is important for children to have the opportunity to practice things they enjoy so they can watch themselves become better. But in order to excel at anything, you have to work through the part where you just stink at it. This can be hard to do for an adult, let alone a child! (Editor’s note: teach your child this 3 letter word to take them from I can’t to I can)
It takes encouragement from parents to help children learn new skills. It is great thing for confidence to provide a variety of skill building experiences. It is even better to pick one skill and then help your child practice consistently to become a master at it.
Examples of activities for kids to grow in their skill and confidence include:
- building things
3. Encourage Independent Play
Have you ever noticed when a child plays by him or herself, he will often get into a quarrel with a toy? One moment he is playing nicely and the next he is yelling and throwing the toy across the room as if it did something to wrong him!
Maybe in his imagination the toy did something mean or he is frustrated because it isn’t working the way it should.
Either way it seems that children make up and solve their own problems when they are allowed to get into deep play. I love watching this happen because I know that new neural connections form and they gain valuable life skills.
I try to provide an opportunity for independent play daily. Even if it is only for 30 minutes. At least one day a week, I make sure to not leave the house and allow my child to just be.
It’s hard because it seems like there is always an errand that needs to be run, or an ingredient I ran out of. We try to set aside one day a week where we don’t have an agenda. Life moves a little slower and we get more opportunities to play, learn, and interact.
4. Praise Your Children for the Little Things
No matter how old you are, getting praised for a job well done makes you feel special. It boosts confidence in your abilities knowing that others think highly of you. We crave this validation as humans.
I think praising our children comes natural to parents. We are so proud of our children. We just have to make sure we are actually TELLING them and not just thinking it.
I am careful not to say things like “you are so smart” or “you are so cute” too often even though I think them all the time. Instead, I try to offer praise that validates their effort. For example, I will say “you are doing a great job using creativity” or “your picture is so beautiful, you must have worked so hard on it.”
I truly don’t think there is anything wrong with telling your child she is smart or pretty. I just think we should balance that by also praising their work. I don’t want my child to grow up and think that if she isn’t “smart,” or “pretty to the world’s standard” she won’t be successful in life.
I believe every human has the potential to excel in life beyond their innate capabilities. Nurture and encouragement by parents increases kids desire to try.
5. Listen with Your Full Attention
We live in an era where it is easy to get distracted. You have to be so intentional to not allow your phone notifications to suck up the spare minutes of your day.
I am just getting started on this parenting journey, but my two-year-old already talks nonstop. I can see how easy it is for their voices to become like Charlie Brown’s teacher. I try my very best to listen to my son with full attention multiple times a day.
If you give your children your full attention when they talk and then respond with interest, it encourages self-expression. A child needs to know that her thoughts and opinions are valued.
Make sure to pay attention to your nonverbal behavior while listening. You want to have an open, warm expression, even when you have to talk about something difficult.
6. Allow Kids to Make Simple Choices
Making decisions with confidence is a no easy task. I still struggle with second guessing myself and my decisions as an adult.
It is so important for children to have the opportunity to make simple choices as they grow up. It will give them practice so when the time comes to make more complicated decisions, they will know how the process works.
I like to ask my son close-ended questions and have him pick between two choices throughout the day. “Do you want blueberries or a banana?” “To drink from the green cup or blue cup?”
They get to pick and you respect their choice which helps them feel important.
7. Admit Your Own Mistakes
One trap we can fall into as parents is to think we must be perceived as perfect in order have our children’s respect. I truly believe this fallacy could be the MOST detrimental to our youth’s ability to develop self-confidence.
The belief that adults are perfect and can never mess up sets up unreachable expectations in children’s minds. Our children are always watching us. They need to know that it is ok to make mistakes, that it is actually quite normal and doesn’t make you are a failure.
We cannot prevent our children from learning at the school of hard knocks. But at a certain age, we have to lift the veil and give them a safe dose of reality. Only then can they learn some.
We are the greatest influencers in our children’s lives. When we admit our mistakes and allow our kids to watch us work through the problem-solving process, they may gain valuable life skills.
If nothing else, it will help them accept their own imperfections and realize that they are still an amazing person. Perhaps, it will even prevent them from quitting when something gets hard because they will be less likely to assume that the process will be easy.
Being confident is one part knowing your personal limitations and another part refusing to let them stop you.
The only way I know how to instill this to the next generation is to set the example.
As your children get closer and closer to adulthood, building up their self-confidence may become a higher priority over just the basic feeding, clothing, and making sure they do their homework. But don’t wait until they are dealing with peer-pressure, choosing colleges, or moving out to start thinking about ways to build up their self-esteem.
The most important way to raise a confident child is just to love and accept them completely, as they are.
Ultimately, being self-confident is a daily practice which none of us will truly ever master. We do our best as parents to radiate positive self-worth. Our kids will soak up this energy like a sponge and go out and live their best life.
Liv is a registered nurse and military spouse with a passion for preventative health. After 10 years in neonatal and adult critical care, Liv empowers families to achieve optimal health and happiness by making simple, intentional choices. She offers postive parenting affirmations, non-toxic living recipes, and easy-to-follow guides on using home remedies to heal sick kids at Naturally Made Mom.