How to Raise a Confident Child
We all want to see our children flourish and grow into confident adults. But what does raising confident kids actually mean? Let’s explore specific ways we can help children build confidence.
5 Keys for How to Raise a Confident Child
Think of building confidence like building with blocks. It’s not one big effort that does the job. It’s the impact of many small connections that create strength that can weather life’s storms.
Here are five essential keys to build that foundation of confidence:
#1: Let Them Fail
This sounds counterintuitive, but kids need to experience a failure to gain confidence. Your first instinct might be to protect them from failure, so they don’t get discouraged. But this can backfire and lead kids to give up when things don’t work out right away.
Instead, encourage kids to keep trying even when things don’t come easily. This teaches them that perseverance and practice are the most critical ingredients to success.
#2: Encourage Kids to Learn New Things
Confidence comes from feeling capable. This means building skills in a variety of areas. Harness that natural curiosity in children by researching new ideas and questions. Help them follow their passions, learn new creative hobbies, or try a new sport that seems a little daunting.
Remember that the skills children gain in one area will help them in other areas. The arts teach us to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions. Sports teach us to work as a team and power through obstacles.
#3: Expect Kids to Pitch In
Raising confident kids means helping them feel like capable members of the family, the classroom, and society. Kids want to know they are useful and have something to contribute.
Here’s how you can help kids build confidence in this area:
• Give them chores around the house. As early as two years old (yes, two), have children start helping with small chores at home. Add more sophisticated tasks to the list as children get older. Here’s a list of age-appropriate chores for kids, from toddlers to teens.
• Find opportunities to help. Helping others is an excellent way for kids to feel connected and capable. Examples include shopping for someone in need, helping a younger child with schoolwork, or fostering pets from a local shelter.
#4: The Right Kind of Praise
Until recently, lavish praise was taught as the best route for raising confident kids. Now, we’ve learned what kids need is more nuanced than we thought.
Here are a few approaches to praise that can help:
• General praise and positivity still work. Think high fives after finishing a task or “Thanks so much for helping!” after cleaning up.
• Praise the process. “Wow, all that practice is paying off!” or “You’ve been working hard on this.” This type of praise is one of the best for raising confident kids. It puts the focus on the process rather than the result.
• Praise social skills in relationships. “Maria is having a hard time. I know she appreciates you listening and being a great friend.” Or for a younger child, “That hug made me feel so much better.” Feeling connected in social relationships will help kids develop a solid foundation for confidence.
• Avoid over-the-top or insincere praise. Kids quickly pick up on praise that doesn’t fit the situation. “You do everything so well!” or “You’re perfect!” are two examples. As they get older, kids can develop anxiety and depression if they think everyone expects perfection.
#5: Be the Example
If you want to know how to raise a confident child, make sure to lead by example. Kids are watching and learning from what we do more than what we say.
Try new things, learn from failures, help others, and focus on effort rather than results. Talk about how you’re afraid to do something (like give a presentation), but that you’re doing it anyway. Show them when you’ve learned from your mistakes.
Although it may feel like bragging, it’s also important to be open about your skills and accomplishments. Kids will learn that through trying new things, failure, and practice, worthy rewards will be gained.
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