What do you think is the #1 skill your child needs to Succeed in life?
Is it being ambitious?
Is it about scoring high marks?
Or do you believe it’s got something to do with Confidence?
Think about it!
We all want to raise confident, successful and happy kids, but do we understand what confidence really is when we’re busy trying to build theirs?
What is confidence and where does it come from?
Let’s take a closer look…
Confidence stems from childhood. And it’s much more crucial that confidence is built at a young age than at a later stage because it sets the foundation for how a person grows and what they grow to be.
We spoke to Vidya Ragu, psychologist, learning, and development specialist from Chennai, and she’s shared (read below) some really cool pointers on the A-Z of building confidence in children – and not to forget, an uber-cool magic tool as well!
But first – let’s debunk a rather popular myth…
Don’t mistake your child’s personality to a lack of confidence:
If your child doesn’t like interacting with guests or shies away from them, it doesn’t mean they are not confident.
If your child hesitates to go on stage to talk in front of a crowd, it doesn’t mean they are not confident.
If your child isn’t doing something that everyone else is doing, it doesn’t mean they are not confident.
The reason is, we are all wired differently.
Our personalities are different and so are our inclinations.
These choices and behaviours come and go as phases in your child’s life.
Your child who shies away from the stage today might walk onto the podium and deliver a speech by Abraham Lincoln with utmost determination tomorrow.
So what is Confidence then?
Confidence is directly linked to the self-esteem and self-image of your child.
Picture this —
When your child looks into the mirror, does he love and accept himself?
Let’s simplify this further…
I CAN? Or I CAN’T?
Whenever your child is dealing with real-life situations, does he/she hear more I CANs or I CANTs?
It’s as simple as that!
As parents, we need to identify what direction our children are moving towards — the I CAN path or the I CAN’T path. By doing this and by pushing them onto the I CAN path, we are making them more ‘able’ to face life’s many challenges.
Where does confidence come from?
Every time your child improves his/her skills, and they know (through feedback) that they’ve improved their skills, they become more confident.
Self-inquiry or Self-reflection:
When your child does a job really well, we appreciate them, but leave it at that.
Next time, try this – go one step further and ask them questions about how they did the job.
Ex: If your child coloured a mango, ask them about how they chose the colours or how they coloured within the border. This will make them self-reflect and gain a better understanding.
Make it challenging:
If your child is used to a particular pattern of completing tasks, UP the game a bit by adding a closer deadline or make the rules more challenging for them. (And you can use that extra time to spend time together!)
You can add incentives or change the approach altogether to make tasks more exciting for your child.
And don’t forget the most important part – give genuine feedback!
If your child has done a good job, appreciate it. But if they haven’t, then push them to make them reach their potential.
How do you shape your child’s confidence?
Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill that you can embed to raise their confidence.
Simply put… confidence sparks from the environment.
Fun Fact: Research proves that one of the most fundamental foundations of building a child’s confidence is – his/her ‘parents’.
Set the right environment:
Children are constantly observing. What you speak to them and how you speak to them becomes their driving force as they grow up. So if you shout, scold, say more NO’s, or reprimand them all the time… or even if you as a parent are constantly saying ‘I CAN’T’ to yourself and your child hears you, it impacts and influences their thinking.
So it’s important to analyse what kind of environment you are setting.
Empower your child:
When your child is unable to do something, it’s important that you not just address the fact that they can’t do it, but also guide them on how they can do it. Empower your child by teaching them!
Move your child from the CAN’T Zone:
The good news is, you can reduce the cants while you interact with your child.
The bad news is, there are many others in the environment who are throwing Can’ts and ‘NOs’ at your child.
In fact, research shows that by the time a child turns 5, they hear much more NOs and CANTs than any other word!
So how do you make them move from this negative zone?
Let’s call an UBER! 🙂
The Secret Formula That Will Build Your Child’s Confidence
U – US
Be conscious as a family of the environment you are setting for your child. What you say to your child, what you speak in front of them, the tone in which you speak, every little thing matters. You may notice a pattern that you are setting that is actually pulling down their confidence.
Discuss and write down these points as a family, so each of you knows where you’re stepping out of line.
B – Build the desire in your child to know more, do more and learn more:
Learning is very important to sustain your child’s confidence in the long run.
To build this desire, use conversations and activities!
And instead of pushing it to your child directly, you can instigate the fire in them.
Ex: when you’re driving, you can tell your child, “Oh, I wish I could drive that truck”, or “Oh, I wish I could cycle as powerfully as that girl there”. By doing this yourself, you are inspiring your child to also learn and know more.
And hey, you can also make dinner table conversations exciting…
When you sit down to eat together, you can ask each other as a family, “So what did you learn today?” or “I learnt how to write my name backward. What about you?” or you can share something that you learned from the maid!
These productive discussions build the desire for children to do more.
E – Engage
Instead of just putting your child in a class, engage with them – talk to them, ask them about their skills, encourage them and appreciate them by giving your feedback.
Engaging your child will also help remove their fears and increase their confidence.
R – Rituals
Rituals can really help build healthy habits. And confidence-building becomes much easier when there are rituals.
Ex, since physiology plays a huge factor in a person’s confidence, in the mornings, you can encourage your child with a healthy ritual such as – to go running or walking.
And as the name suggests, these are rituals and not a one-time thing. You need to actively and consistently plan these into their timetables every day.
You can also make use of mind-maps to understand how you as a family are growing or where you are going. Mind-maps are, more or less, representations of what we see. Some children may not enjoy talking or expressing as much as we do, and since mind-maps is all about drawing, you’ll be able to see their raw feedback on the canvas.
Caution: Children give real feedback, so be prepared 🙂 And whatever it may be, don’t reprimand your child for it.
Play as a family:
Playing games together as a family will build your child’s skills.
Ex, you can build your child’s communication or expression by asking them to talk for 3-mins straight… Or you can improve their creativity by playing a story-building game.
And since it’s all a game, children don’t feel the fear of being judged or tested for something.
Fun Fact: The only antidote to build confidence is ‘action’.
Which means, every time your child acts on something, he/she is becoming confident. So give your child more opportunities, challenges and support to build their skills, attitude, and knowledge. We’re sure this will help raise your child’s confidence and take life head-on in a fun way!
So hope you enjoyed this article. Do drop a comment below and tell us what you as a family do to raise your child’s confidence. You can also share a memory of what you did to gain confidence when you were young!
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