With Olympic stars and piano prodigies, it’s natural to hope our kids will excel. But a child’s ability to believe in himself far outweighs any laurels he’ll earn. Why? It’s that self confidence rather than success that can usher him through life’s ups and downs. Here are five things I’m doing to increase self confidence in children.
How to increase self confidence in children
Tip #1: Praise the effort, not the person or the result.
After I had my first baby, I heard parenting expert Julie Ross speak about the dangers of overpraise. Children driven by praise fall apart when people doesn’t think they’re the next Mozart.
I never a told a child they were smart, a good athlete, a good piano player, nor a talented drawer.
Instead, I avoid value judgments and praise the attempt or effort involved. You want your child to feel good about himself, whether what he did turned out great or not.
And you always want him to try. You don’t want him to fall apart when he doesn’t get a good grade. Or to think that because he’s “the smart one,” he must always do well.
Tip #2: We don’t have to be good at everything.
Nowadays, everyone is supposed to be good at everything, which, we all know, isn’t the case. Sure, I want my kids to give effort, but I also want them to be able to admit they won’t succeed at everything. That the value is in continuing to try.
Kids can detect insincerity. Don’t tell your child they’re the next Nobel prize winner in math when it’s not true. They’ll know the truth sooner than you and won’t trust you.
Encourage reasonable expectations from what they are good at. And from the fact that they keep trying when they’re not so hot.
Tip #3: Adopt Churchill’s motto: Never give up.
Which then leads me to my next point—aren’t I logical—ha ha. When I hear a story about a person who went through a challenging time and persevered, I recite that tale to my kids.
Sometimes I’ll even read them a passage from books about endurance and perseverance. “Did he give up,” I ask? “NO,” they’re used to chanting back.
I want my kids to understand that success doesn’t just happen—we work for it. This effort is a cornerstone of self-esteem. When we work hard at something, we feel good about ourselves, even when we don’t succeed at first.
Running a start-up has proves this point because my kids have seen me work and struggle. They understand that things don’t just take off without a lot of sweat (and some tears).
Tip #4: Emphasize kindness and respect over success.
When my kids do something generous or kind, I praise that, even if it’s the smallest gesture. Self confidence can stem from showing common courtesy. Things like saying hello, holding the door, and helping someone carry bags.
These are the small moments that gel into the larger picture of our own lives. And a few of those per day can change the way you feel about yourself.
Tip #5: Praise their character.
Even though I don’t believe in telling my kids they’re good at something, I do praise their character. If they make a mistake or do something mean, I tell them I know they’re good deep down and that’s what matters most. When I tuck them in at night, I say “Mommy loves you so much and I’m so proud of you, and you are a wonderful person.”
This helps them grow into someone who realizes that being a good person is the number one priority.
I’m a parent of toddlers to pre-teens and I’m sure I’ve goofed as much as I’ve gotten it right. The tips above are the ones that ring true to me, and I hope they are helpful to you.
Read these related articles:
- Here’s How to Address Your Child’s Failures
- Can Praise Be Harmful and Impede Your Child’s Potential?
- On Resilience and Perseverance: How to Raise Kids with Grit
- Why It’s Not Good to Say Good Job (and What to Say Instead)
- How to Help Kids Overcome Their Fears
Your turn: How do you increase self confidence in your children? Do you practice any of the five tips above? Let us know in the comments!
Melissa Lawrence, co-founder of CloudMom, lives in New York City with her husband and 5 young children. With more than a few parenting tricks up her sleeve, Melissa posts daily how-to videos and blogs for moms just like you! Follow Melissa’s latest activity on social: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram
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