How do we teach our kids confidence? This elusive and ever-important quality is one that, as parents, is so critical and yet challenging to instill in our children. Confidence is built from repeatedly overcoming challenges, experiencing success and being recognized and rewarded for those successes. Often, parents will step in early and avoid the risk of failure in their kids altogether. This ultimately presents more issues for your child later in life when they finally do experience real obstacles they need to overcome.
To get ahead and set your child up for success, here are a few recommendations for fostering confidence in your kids.
Without overcoming challenges through problem solving it’s difficult to develop resilience. Rather than helping your child avoid challenges altogether, employ “scaffolding” - a tactic that involves giving your child enough assistance to take on challenges such as demonstrating how to do something or using words to suggest a strategy.
Another tactic for building confidence involves breaking down assignments into smaller tasks. When the goal seems insurmountable, kids get discouraged before they even start.
In practice, this looks like spotting your child. If they are unable to reach a goal, suggest a strategy. Children are able to learn from problem-solving strategies. The key here is to create small, frequent, attainable goals. When they succeed with small goals and see their work grow into something bigger, one task at a time, it builds confidence for future endeavors.
Create a checklist as a visual aid. Get creative and use stickers to mark activities as completed. Itemization of bedtime, for example, could look like taking a bath as task one, brushing teeth as task two, and so on. In time, bedtime won’t be dreaded for you and your child. In Amy Cuddy’s 2012 TED Talk she drives home the idea that tiny tweaks create big changes.
What about the hands off approach? The idea that kids learn on their own and a hands off approach is best has been shown to be ineffective and dangerous. When parents watch their kids fail and don’t step in, kids may interpret this as rejection.
Remind your child that the goal is not perfection. It’s trying, failing, and trying again, with support by their side. Stepping in too soon can undermine their progress, but encouragement is ultimately confidence-boosting.
With encouragement, kids feel valued and they learn how to encourage others and themselves. It also helps teach them how to self-sooth.
Practice positive self-talk and be aware of how you respond or react to certain situations. If you are confident and hardworking your child will pick up on that. If you’re second guessing yourself and angry, they will pick up on that too. Remember that the way you behave as a parent provides a model for how your child will react to challenges in the future.
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