Saturday, July 14, 2012

Let Their Confidence Shine

Let Their Confidence Shine - 

Building Confidence and Self-esteem.

Teenage girls with hula hoops
Healthy Habits


When I was asked to write about raising self-confident children, I thought of my mom.She raised four children to become well-rounded productive citizens. What was her theory of child rearing? "You can't change who they are. You can just civilize them." There's a world of good advice in that statement. I realized that I know a lot of moms who have successfully brought up children to be self-confident adults, so I went to the best moms I know and asked the question:

How do you raise self-confident children?

  • Let them be who they are. As my mom said, you can't change who they are, and trying to do so sends them the message that they're not okay. If your kid is not athletic, don't try to push him into being a football star. If your child would rather climb trees than read a book, help her to be the best tree climber she can be. If your son gets an electric guitar and has a buddy with drums, well, get earplugs. Along those same lines:
  • Help them find their strengths. It's important for children to be good at something. Assure them that they don't have to be good at everything. Nobody is good at everything. Give them lots of opportunities to try new things, and direct them toward areas where they appear to have skills.
  • Give them the opportunity to fail safely. One mom pointed out that being Boy Scouts helped her sons. They were able to try many things, and if they failed, it was okay. They could always try again if they wanted. They discovered a lot about themselves along the way, and all three of her sons became Eagle Scouts, which is quite an achievement.
  • Help them to acknowledge their weaknesses and to cope with them. People are all different, but not all children recognize that this is okay. One of the very best moms I know has a teenage son who stutters. She has never let him believe that this is a deficiency, but she did find a speech therapist to help him at a very early age. This young man once told someone who had a different speech impediment, "You can't pretend you don't have a problem. You have to learn to deal with it." He still stutters, but he has learned techniques that help him to be in control of it. He's not helpless in dealing with his stutter.
  • Don't overprotect them. Let them try new things even if it looks scary to you.
Boy sitting on cliff--Yosemite National Park
That's my boy!
  • The source of all self-esteem is doing something successfully. I can't stress this one enough! Don't do for them what they can do for themselves. The mom of the young man who stutters told me she never orders for him when they go out to eat or answers for him any other time. He can do that himself. Just think of all the simple things we do for our kids that they could be doing. If your child can make her own bed,  let her, even if it's not made as well as you could do it. My son and daughter were both doing their own laundry by the time they were in sixth grade. This idea goes along with the next point.
  • Give them responsibility. Research shows that people need to feel needed. Let them know they are an important part of the family and are needed to help the family function. Chores are just a part of life, not a punishment or an imposition.
  • Encourage them to help others. If people need to feel needed, this can expand beyond the family. Encourage your children to find ways to help others. Visit nursing homes. Join a service organization. Mow the lawn or shovel snow for your elderly neighbors. 
The one thing all these moms agreed on was that you don't raise a child's self-esteem just by telling them how good they are. Kids are just too smart to fall for those Stuart Smalley style affirmations, "You're Good Enough, You're Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like You!"

Your self-confident child will do better in all areas of life. What other tips do you have for adding to a child's self-confidence?

As a member of Clever Girls Collective, I was selected to participate in the Healthy Habits program sponsored by Kimberly-Clark and Colgate-Palmolive. The content and opinions expressed here are all my own. #healthyhabits #cgc