Jack was a happy baby with a big belly laugh he used with great regularity. He was a curious and adventurous toddler with a booming personality and the voice to go with it.
His first few years of school were filled with curiosity and the desire to learn. Then, his voice became quiet, his smiles infrequent and his urge to try and learn new things disappeared.
What happened? Jack (a fictional character to illustrate this point) lost his confidence and self-esteem somewhere along the line.
If he doesn’t regain confidence, Jack’s tumultuous teens will be even more challenging.
How did he lose his confidence? It was probably not down to any one thing or any one person.
A loving, nurturing parent who strived only to make Jack’s life wonderful, may have been too helpful – too protective.
An overworked teacher may have neglected to see the signs and added to his angst with the occasional thoughtless comment or expectation.
Perhaps his peers refused to play with him, resulting in a lack of self-worth.
WHAT DOES A CONFIDENT KID LOOK LIKE?
It’s not always as simple to spot a confident kid as you might think. Some children can have big, boisterous personalities at home and become full of self-doubt and anxiety when in a different environment, such as school. The traits confident kids share include
- an optimistic outlook on life
- unafraid to try new things
- feel liked and accepted
- are proud of what they can do
- see mistakes as hurdles to be overcome
- can make meaningful choices
- understand that they can achieve what they want if they put the effort in.
- work on solutions to various problems instead of laying blame on others or bad luck in general
HOW DO YOU RAISE A CONFIDENT KID?
Parents can’t control all the elements outside of the home that could contribute to a child’s lack of confidence. However, they can provide an atmosphere that promotes self-esteem and self-belief. This will prepare a child to meet challenges head-on and with confidence.
According to psychologist and author, Carl Pickhardt, lack of confidence in a child can have a negative effect on their entire life.
Fear of failure can stop a child from trying new things and this can even prevent them from having a successful career.
He, along with many other experts in child psychology, has some important pointers for those who are eager to raise a confident kid.
Resisting the desire to be over helpful
Overly helpful – is that even a thing? Yes, according to the experts. Particularly where children are concerned. Parents have a natural desire to make things easier for their children and often step in prematurely to help. The recommendation is to step back and allow your child to try things for themselves.
They may make mistakes. That’s fine. They will learn from them.
The child may become frustrated. That, too, is a learning curve. This is an opportunity for parents to teach children about the importance and rewards of trying hard and practising. If the frustration becomes too great, take a break and try again when the mood has lightened.
Experts recommend you avoid making excuses or creating short cuts for your child if you want to raise a confident kid.
Resisting the urge to be overprotective
When it comes to being overly protective, it is super tough for some parents. No one wants their child to be hurt. However, if we don’t allow children to take risks (within reason) we stunt their growth and fuel their dependence on us.
A favourite activity for my pre-school students and grandchildren is cutting bits of paper with scissors. It takes a bit of courage, as a grandmother and a teacher, to allow them to do this without hovering. The fear, of course, is that they will cut themselves. However, I have a supply of child safety scissors, which means any injury will be minimal. Feedback from parents has told me that the rewards outweigh the risk as this addition to their fine motor skills has set them ahead during pre-school activities.
Read my post, How a Little Danger Can Keep Kids Safe, to find out how some schools are now embracing safe risk-taking, providing what they call an ‘anti cotton wool’ environment.
When it comes to problem-solving, give your child enough space to try and figure it out themselves, safe in the knowledge you are close at hand to lend help and support if needed.
A little mess is best
I was horrified the other day when I entered a local store and saw ‘fake mud’. Are you kidding me? Not only can playing with mud (the real stuff) make us happy, it can enhance our immune system. Read How to Increase Health and Happiness by Playing in Mud to find out more.
Try to avoid the urge to protect your kids from a bit of dirt, or paint, or glue. I have several students who have an aversion to getting their hands messy. Bit of a problem when you are making arts and crafts.
For some, it’s because of a condition they have. For others, perhaps overzealous parents have worked so hard on keeping their hands clean that their children have forgotten how to be kids and find joy in the tactile delights of playing with clay, paper mache paste and slime. We work our way around it during classes, but the kids who have the most fun are the ones who are not scared of messy hands.
Finding the praise sweet spot
We all know the importance of praise when it comes to raising a confident kid. However, there is a sweet spot between overpraising and not giving enough credit when it’s due.
Over praising can result in children expecting something for nothing, producing an adult with a sense of entitlement. This doesn’t prepare them for the real world where rewards come from consistent hard work. Children often see through this too, which can result in a lack of trust towards you.
By the same token, under praising can lead to children feeling that nothing they do is good enough. This could lead to depression and mean they just stop trying.
The biggest praise should be reserved for the effort put into something, rather than the end result.
For instance, if your child’s team wins their sporting final, it’s fine to recognise and acknowledge the joy of winning. It’s equally important to compliment your child on their effort towards that end.
If your child’s teams looses, it’s important to tell them how proud you are of the effort they put in and not to give up.
The golden rule is, don’t criticise their performance but encourage their efforts.
Help your child set realistic goals
Learning to set realistic goals is an important ingredient to success, whether on a personal, academic and professional level.
As the quote goes:
“Failing to plan is planning to fail”.bENJAMIN fRAnklin
When I was creating The Creative Kick-start to Confident Kids Kit, I asked my seven-year-old granddaughter to tell me about some of her goals. They revolved around flying with fairies and riding unicorns. This led me to expand the section about goal setting, explaining the meaning and importance of SMART goals and the difference between goals, dreams and wishes.
When children are setting goals they often need the support of an adult to keep the goals manageable and doable. This requires some thought and planning.
Unrealistic goals result in children losing their confidence.
Teach your child to treat mistakes as important learning tools.
Some children are so anxious about making mistakes that they are reluctant to try anything new.
Mistakes are probably our very best teachers and they can often lead to the most amazing things. In The Creative Kick-start for Confident Kids Kit, I outline some of the wonderful inventions that were borne from mistakes and challenge children to turn a mistake into a masterpiece.
When children view mistakes as learning tools rather than ‘the end of the world’, their curiosity and zest for learning continue to grow.
Avoid comparisons with other children, either siblings or classmates
When you start comparing your child with others, your child learns to do the same.
Comparison has no winners and tends to make people feel jealous or unworthy, or superior and judgemental.
Comparison is the thief of joy.Theodore Roosevelt
A confident kid will learn to compare their results with their goals and not with other people.
Encourage your child to confidently face reality by avoiding too much screen time
Finding the right balance for screen time is one of the biggest issues for parents today.
We live in a technological world where screens are a routine part of life, even in early learning centres. Banning all screen time is unrealistic and would set your child behind.
However, research is already proving the downside of too much screen time, particularly for children.
It can be a welcome relief from real-time problems but prolonged escapes from reality can cause children to lose confidence, become depressed, isolated and anxious.
IN THE REAL WORLD
Establishing a growth mindset and optimistic outlook during the pre-teen years is essential to help kids navigate through the tumultuous teens.
As a parent, you can help by providing a safe and supportive environment with a positive atmosphere for children to explore, discover, make mistakes, try again, set goals and solve problems for themselves.
The Creative Kick-start to Confident Kids Kit has been designed especially to help parents guide children towards confidence, problem solving and creativity.
Whether your child is brimming with self-confidence and all the rewards that go with it, or one who is filled with self-doubt, these activities are sure to entertain and educate.
The exercises (aimed at kids aged 7 – 12) were created after extensive research and more than 25 years’ experience teaching children. Those who have used the worksheets have had fun discovering things about themselves and realising the ‘superpower’ they have to create a beautiful and happy life for themselves.
The Creative Kick-start to Confident Kids Kit PDF EBook contains 28 worksheets that take children on a creative adventure of self-discovery, goal setting and problem-solving.
Go through the kit with your child at a leisurely pace. Younger children, in particular, will appreciate having you on hand to answer questions and you may find you discover things about your child you didn’t know as the exercises inspire conversations.
There is no need to rush through the kit. It doesn’t have to be completed in one sitting – just allow your child to go through it at their own pace.
The Creative Kick-start to Confident Kids Kit
The first few worksheets are all about the child and get them thinking about what they like and why as well as celebrating all their achievements. These flow into some exercises to help children understand how to set and achieve goals, solve problems and cope with mistakes.
Then they are encouraged to tap into and try to understand their feelings and how to deal with them as well as using their ‘superpowers’ to change negative thought patterns.
There is a daily kindness and gratitude challenge and worksheets to keep track of these as well as goals.
The final page has a list of affirmations that are great alternatives to negative thoughts.
Buy your copy of The Creative Kick-start to Confident Kids PDF eBook now for the introductory price – 25 per cent off the regular price.
In the meantime, have a gleeful week, Tamuria.