Self-Confidence Boosters for Your Child: Tips for Parents
By Silvana Clark
Want to bolster your little one's self esteem? Learn important parenting techniques that will help your child feel stronger, smarter, and more self-assured.
Sit by any playground and observe the children running, jumping, and climbing over and under the equipment. It's not hard to notice the daredevils who soar headfirst down the slide and then leap from the hanging bars to begin twirling feverishly on the tire swing. These kids know no fear! Then there are the cautious playground participants. They slowly walk across the shaky wooden bridge. It takes them time to get the courage to slide down the fireman's pole. What makes the difference? Could it be self-confidence?
We all want our kids to eagerly participate in school, join other kids in the playgroup, or volunteer to play on the soccer team. Yet often—as well meaning as we are—parents undermine their children's ability to develop self-confidence. If a preschooler runs into a room carrying a glass of water, what's the first thing most parents say? You'll usually hear," Be careful, you might spill that!" instead of "It's a good idea to walk when carrying a glass of water." Why encourage a self-fulfilling prophecy by telling Susie she'll spill the water?
Let's revisit the playground. Listen carefully and you're bound to hear some mother yelling, "Jordan, stay close by where I can see you, you might get hurt!" Yet that's no way to build a child's confidence! When our daughter was three, my husband found her trying to climb an apple tree in the backyard. Rather than tell her she was going to fall, he spent time showing her how to select branches for holding and standing. They climbed another ten feet, much to Sondra's delight. The rule is she can climb trees when an adult is nearby—which has resulted in numerous father-daughter, tree-climbing expeditions.
Here are some ways that you can help your young child develop confidence in herself and her abilities.
Be a Positive Role Model
How often as adults do we say, "I'll never be able to make that presentation next week," or, "I wish I knew how to use this new computer program. I'll never learn!"? Children need to see parents with a can-do attitude. They gain coping skills by hearing parents express their own self-confidence: "The boss asked me to give a Power Point presentation next week. I've never done it, but I found this great magazine article that has some tips. I'll give it a try."
If things don't work out, keep a positive attitude. I remember taking a risk and auditioning for a part in a community theater play. I didn't get even a minor part, but I did let my daughter see me stepping out of my comfort zone and making the best of the situation. While I wasn't headed for Broadway, I instead became involved with the theater by volunteering as box office manager.