Being successful in this world requires healthy self-confidence. We all want our children to flourish and feel happy with themselves and able to connect well with others. This is one of the most important tools for success. People are drawn to those around them who are confident but not arrogant so how do we help grow this in our young kids?
Self-confidence starts with healthy connections to others. We are relational beings and we flourish within healthy interactions. Kids first download how they feel about themselves through their interaction with their parents and close family members and friends. They need to hear regularly that you love them, and that this love is not connected to their behavior. They need to know that you value them, you believe they have something to offer that is unique, and that you know they have something positive to contribute to your family unit.
Affirmation and power of noticing
Children need to know you see them. You see what they do. You see how they feel. You see how they are growing in skill. You see they are capable. You see what they enjoy doing and where their talents are developing. Praise them by noticing out loud. “I see the picture you made, and I love the colors you chose. It is bright and happy” “I see how you were kind to your brother when he was feeling disappointed today.” “I see how you persevered on your homework even when it felt really hard. I knew you could do it!” “I see how you put the dishes in the dishwasher. That was really helpful”
Encouraging your child to see and respond to the emotions of others is key to creating self-confidence and not arrogance. When success looks like all of us doing well rather than a competitive endeavor, we help our kids to practice humility as well creating healthy self-esteem. We need to encourage the truth that we can enjoy somebody else’s success without it taking away from who we are. Helping others and responding to the needs of others helps your child to grow in empathy and know they are valuable and needed in their community. Helping other people feels good and this in turn develops self-confidence.
Encourage your child to engage in their community and practice interactions with others. Children who are naturally shy may struggle with greeting new people, ordering food at a restaurant or talking to a neighbor. Practicing these opportunities over time, helps to develop greater self-confidence. Your child will learn they have something valuable to offer the world and can engage people and receive a positive response. If they don’t receive a positive response this is another great teaching moment to talk with your child about assuming positive intent from the person who was mean, rude or indifferent. Assuming the other person is having a hard day and thinking of something nice to do or say or pray for them highlights that the negative emotion was coming from the other person so your child does not think it was their fault.
Children flourish when given age appropriate chores in the house and in their world. They feel confident when they know you believe in them to take care of their backpack, put their own shoes on, take the plates to the kitchen, help their brother and put their own toys away. They need to know you believe they are capable, and this enhances the way they feel about themselves.
Routine and Expectations
Children feel emotionally safe and able to try more challenging tasks when they are in a predictable routine and know the expectations of behavior or etiquette in any social setting. Our brains are pattern seeking and therefore predictability or information about what to expect in a new setting is so important as children figure out how to respond. They feel more confident when you have prepared them.
Your children were created by a loving God who has a good plan for them. They are unique in design and purpose. He believes in them. He loves them. He is delighted to see them growing and flourishing under your care. Enjoy these young years with your kids and speak life and hope into them. They will grow up knowing they can make a positive impact on this world.