We all want to give our kids the best things life has to offer. Unfortunately most of these things are bloody expensive. Fortunately though, one of the best things you can give your child, a healthy sense of self-confidence, is absolutely free
Here’s 5 ways you can help build your kids confidence:
- Praise appropriately – praising your child inappropriately; telling them they will win X Factor when they are clearly tone deaf does no one any good. If your child shows no talent at a particular skill, praise the effort, but don’t unrealistically praise the results. Be genuine and drop the meaningless flattery. Smart kids can see through it and it lessens the impact when they do something truly praiseworthy. On the other hand, it’s amazing how many parents are afraid to say well done when their kid deserves it. Young kids especially, measure their worth and achievement by what you think. Don’t go overboard, but don’t miss an opportunity either.
- Teach good manners – It might seem old fashioned, but knowing how to properly address a person, shake hands or even set a table can give your child a kick-start to building self-confidence. Respect makes people feel good about themselves, and is the starting quality for people who grow to be leaders. And remember, kids are watching and listening to you. Say thanks to the lady in the supermarket; shake hands when you meet someone. Reinforce ‘good manners’ as the standard way we treat people. Be warm and friendly with people you don’t know and role model confidence.
- Support their passion– Remember that they don’t have to be the best at what they do, just enjoy what they do. Whether it is sport, art, music, dance, technology, education, scouts, it doesn’t matter. You may not like watching cricket for hours on a Saturday but if it means a confident child, suck it up. Every kid will find something they enjoy. They will then do it more often (practice), get better at it (improve) and with achievement comes confidence. Other benefits: they learn to recognize their strengths, accept or strengthen their weaknesses, handle defeat, expand their circle of friends and learn teamwork. Another confidence-boosting bonus: they stay fit and learn to respect their bodies. With the obesity epidemic among children, this is important, even if your child doesn’t pursue organized sports.
- Don’t label them – Every time you say ‘she’s not very confident’ just reinforces it. Every time you say ‘he is shy’ gives him license to be shy. Say it often enough and it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Avoid labeling your child and instead ensure children are left with a positive view of themselves by focusing on their effort rather than the outcome.
- Show physical affection and regularly and repeatedly tell your child how much she is loved. Warm, playful and affectionate interactions with your child will fill them with a sense of being valued and accepted; crucial for developing the inner self-confidence required for approaching and interacting with others. Let your child know you love them even when they fail or make bad decisions. If all you talk about is performance, they will think you only love them for their report card or the lead they got in the play. Love them unconditionally.
Raising kids isn’t easy; especially healthy, happy, confident kids. It can be hard work at times. But like all things in life the importance you place on it will dictate the effort you put into it. Personally I can’t think of a more worthwhile activity than raising confident children, can you?
Nathan Burke started his career as a schoolteacher before the demands of elite level football with St Kilda F.C. took over. Following a successful corporate career he founded Nathan Burke Consulting – a Melbourne based firm that offers High Performance training and coaching solutions to corporates, schools and sports teams.