Do you ever wonder how you will ever possibly be able to teach your child everything that they need to know in order to successfully make it through life? I can’t be the only one, overwhelmed at times, by this thought, can I? No… I’m sure you’ve thought this. I know that you have. Because, like me, you want the very best for your child.
So, how do we raise kids in a way that will enable them to make good decisions in life; to find their own path to success; to believe in themselves and their abilities; to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that they are special and wonderful and loved by God and by their family; to be kind and loving to others without being taken advantage of? Confidence. Instilling your child with confidence will help them to not only stand up for themselves to a bully on the playground at school now, but also enable them to make decisions with certainty and self-assurance throughout their lives. Here are a few ways to help build confidence in your children that any parent can do:
Offer praise more than punishment
While it may seem obvious that, as parents, we should positively reinforce the behaviors that we want to encourage, it is so easy to fall into the negative reinforcement trap. Some days, it feels like all I do is tell my kids “no.”
“Can I have ice cream?” It’s before dinner… “NO.”
“Can I dive into the pool?” It’s 4-feet deep… “NO.”
“Can I do flips on the trampoline?” You could fall and break your arm (or neck)… “NO.”
No, no, no… much more prevalent in my vocabulary than it should be. I really do try to focus on the good, but I feel that it only sometimes barely equals that amount of times they are hearing “no…. stop that….don’t do that…” So to counterbalance all of the no’s or negative reinforcements that they hear, it is important to intentionally set out to look for ways to offer praise:
“Thank you for hanging up your laundry.”
“Good job cleaning up your toys.”
“You are a good big brother, thank you for helping your little brother with ________________.”
“Awesome job sharing the Wii.”
Each time we offer a word of praise to our children, their self-worth is built up. They hear and understand that we value them—they know they are important to us. When a child hears their parent praising them for something, confidence is reinforced within them.
Allow your child to learn from mistakes
There is a fine line here between a hands-off parenting style and an actively-involved parenting style that allows children to gain independence through experience and choice. The hands-off parent simply allows their child to do anything and offers very little guidance before, during, or after a mistake is made. The actively involved parent offers advice and encourages the child to make proper decisions, without enforcing what the child should do.
This can be very hard to do. We want everything to be perfect for our kids. We want them to not have to make the mistakes that we made. However, if our children grow up never having to make a decision and then realize the consequences that go along with that decision, we really aren’t doing them any favors. Allowing children the freedom to make decisions still requires an actively involved parent.
When we allow our children to make mistakes and learn from failures, we teach them that they aren’t perfect—and that is okay. Some things require hard work and practice. Life still goes on. You learn what you can from your mistakes and move forward, armed with the knowledge gained from the experience. Taking the time to talk about the situation and how your child could make a different choice in the future will build their confidence for future decision making, knowing you are there to support them.
Don’t Overschedule Your Child
While your child may want to be involved in every sport, club, workshop, or after-school activity that is offered, you will do your child a favor to limit the amount of extra-curricular activities in which they participate. Or maybe your child doesn’t want to do any of these things, but would rather come home and play video games, so you, as the parent, have set a strict agenda of activities for your child of the things that you want them to do, including music lessons (for example) that you find yourself having to fight with your child about and feel like you drag your child to… lest your child end up a couch potato. Either way, having your child involved in activities is great, but overscheduling your child is not.
Things can be hectic—at times, too hectic. Sometimes, we just need to take a step back and slow down. If we are too busy to eat meals together, something needs to change. In the attempt to give our children exposure to different experiences, opportunities, and activities, we still want to maintain a healthy balance and make sure that we are spending time together. When we allow our children, or ourselves, to be overscheduled, relationships can suffer, academic achievement can suffer, even health and well-being can suffer.
As children grow up, allow them to try new sports and activities, but limit the amount of activities in which they participate at any given time. Help to lead and guide them based on interest and ability. But most importantly, take the time to get to know your child as they grow up, don’t just simply take on the role of chauffer.
Leading and guiding our children in a way in which they can succeed will build up confidence. Allowing them to over-extend themselves and not be able to commit the proper amount of time to school or activities can end up hurting self-esteem.
Parenting is hard. There is no guide to tell you what to do in every situation. Or how best to handle each child’s unique personality. Or what the long-term effects will be of a particular decision. There is no, one right way to raise a child. Being there for your child, and simply offering a loving environment, will go a long way in giving your child the foundation which they will need to succeed in life.
“…do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”—Ephesians 6:4