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One of my goals that I have as a parent for my daughter is to build a confident child. I believe that building confident children will allow them to feel secure in taking appropriate risks, maximize their talents, and fulfill their life’s purpose later on in adulthood. It is easy to say that this is a goal of mine but how am I going to achieve it? I will highlight seven ways that I believe are essential to fulfilling this goal of mine.
The first point I want to highlight is the power of praise. Praise is when you tell your child what you like about their behavior. This seems pretty simple right? While it might seem simple, I remember a rule that I had learned in my teacher preparation program that applies to working with children and even with my adult relationships. The rule is called 5 to 1. This is the ratio we should keep in mind regarding positive and negative interactions. For every negative interaction, it takes 5 positive interactions to offset the feelings of negativity. If you are being critical of your child 4 times in a row, by the 5 to 1 rule you should give your child 20 consecutive positive interactions before the next negative interactions.
Negative feedback carries much more weight than positive feedback. Think about your own interactions. Your boss can be nice to you whenever he sees you but the moment he gives you one piece of negative feedback it will stick with you for a while. This same concept applies to our children. I am not suggesting that you praise your child for doing something incorrect or wrong. What I am suggesting is to find small instances throughout the day to give your child positive praise to offset those moments when you might have to be critical. If your child knows that you believe in them no matter what, it’ll be easier to have that tough conversation. Once they correct their mistakes, throw a little praise their way for handling a tough conversation and correcting their actions. It will take you a long way with building confident children.
Set Clear Boundaries
My next piece of advice is to set clear boundaries. How does setting clear boundaries help with building confident children? You might be scratching your head and asking yourself why would I ever suggest such a concept. Let me provide a scenario for you all. You are currently at a friend’s house and you are unsure of where to sit, how much you can eat, and what things do they consider rude. How do you feel when you are put in situations like this? You are probably feeling some level of anxiety. Your friend has not made it clear what his expectations are for you in their home.
When there aren’t clear boundaries for our children, they will experience this same type of feeling. They will question whether they are allowed to do this or that. They will wonder if you are going to disapprove of a certain action or if you aren’t going to care. As parents, it is our duty to alleviate this issue for them and allow them to know what our expectations are for them. The predictability is going to allow them to feel more confident with knowing a routine at home. If we don’t provide any predictability, the uncertainty could lead to our children being riddled full of anxiety which leads to being less confident.
Provide Them Opportunities to be Successful
I have a question for you all. How did you feel when you experienced success? The overwhelming majority of you will say that experiencing success made you feel good. It made you feel proud and happy. Your children will feel those same feelings if we provided opportunities for them be successful. Purposely giving them tasks they can complete will give them a feeling of self-efficacy. That feeling of self-efficacy will lead to your children believing in themselves and higher self-esteem. One way I accomplish this with my daughter is through giving her a task such as cleaning up any toy she plays with while singing a clean-up song.
Give a Wide Array of Compliments
Every single person loves being complimented in some way. Compliments make us feel warm, fuzzy, and appreciated for what we have to offer. However, people tend to focus their compliments on talents, appearances, and intelligence. These types of compliments give a short-term boost of confidence but what happens in the moment that you aren’t looking your best, your talent couldn’t carry you to victory, or you didn’t do as well as you hoped on a test? You probably aren’t feeling too good that day especially if your self-esteem is linked to receiving those types of compliments. Our children will have a similar experience if we only focus on those types of attributes.
If you shouldn’t put your sole focus on those types of compliments, what type of compliments should you focus on instead? There should be an emphasis on compliments on their character, contributions to the family, effort, being part of the family, friends, steps towards long-term goals, respect, and quality of their work. These types of compliments will give them more confidence over the long-term versus compliments that only provide a temporary boost.
Allow Them to Explore Their Interests
You all have preferences and interests that makes each and every one of you unique. So do our children! Allowing opportunities to explore their interests shows them that we support what they like (even if we have no interest in it) and we accept them for who they are. That’ll give them assurance that we love them and care about what goes on in their world.
As a parent myself, I will even advocate that you can take this a step further and engage in one of their interests. You can allow your son or daughter to be the “teacher” and they can demonstrate how to do a certain thing they like. If they are in dance, have them teach you the steps and then you try and do it (even post it on TikTok so we can all have a good laugh J). If your child is into learning about dinosaurs, you have him be a “museum curator” and you can attend their exhibit in the comfort of your own home. There are many more examples but I do believe this is something that will build your child’s confidence.
It is important to provide your children with opportunities to be responsible. Eventually, your children are going to grow up and become adults. It is important that you provide them opportunities to handle responsibility. When children are given responsibility, two things are being communicated to them. First, you are communicating that you trust them to handle a task. Second, it tells them that you believe they are ready to be more “more grown up.”
The opposite action can diminish your child’s confidence. Children want to be independent and seen as “grown up.” Eliminating them from being responsible can be interpreted as “being babied.” Children may feel that you do not trust them and that they are not ready for certain tasks. This can be damaging to their self-esteem and confidence.
Below, I am providing a chart for age appropriate chores for children. These chores can help with building confident children.
Provide Open Communication
The ability to communicate freely about your thoughts, desires, and emotions is a great way to practice self-care. Additionally, there is the added bonus of your children being comfortable with sharing whatever is on their mind. Keeping an open line of communication can allow teachable moments to happen, prevent bad decisions, and prevent a person from experiencing any inner turmoil which leads to negative feelings such as anxiety, anger, guilt, shame, or depression.
I am not saying that your child should talk to you as if they are talking to a friend. However, we do not want them bottling up their emotions. In my experience as a counselor, this can lead to some form of a self-destructive behavior. I know that none of you want that for your child. I cannot stress enough the importance of your child being able to share their thoughts with you even if it is bad. When they do, meet them where they are at with empathy and keep from being non-judgmental. Your child will love you for doing such a thing and be confident that you have their back in a time of need.
To conclude this post, I provided seven ways that I believe we can build up our children’s confidence. I will acknowledge there are other tactics to achieve this but I hold these seven concepts in very high regard. With confidence, I can say I am not perfect and I won’t do each and every single thing on this post 100% of the time. I do plan on trying my best to do it as much as I can so my daughter knows that I am in her corner at all times. I want her to know that I trust that she can accomplish any goal that she possesses. Lastly, I want her to know that I cherish her being part of my family.
Down below, share some ways that you plan on building confident children. What are some parenting tips you might have for myself or another father?
Cameron is the creator of Supportive Fathers. He created Supportive Fathers as a way to help explore topics other dads encounter in everyday life. Cameron is very passionate about being a father to 2 year old daughter as well as being the husband possible to his wife. To read more of his story, please click here.