Parents often tell me they worry about how their children’s lack of confidence will affect their future. There are many things you can do as a parent to help develop self-assurance in your children.
Read on to discover some practical tips you can implement today.
1. Give Them Responsibilities
Give your children responsibilities, such as helping you cook dinner or taking care of a younger sibling. When your children fulfil their responsibilities, they experience an increase in self-worth, which boosts their confidence.
Dr Marty Rossman conducted research to support this theory. He found that children who help out with household chores do better in school, and that they’re also more empathic and caring. Children feel good when they’re contributing to the family and have an important role to play. They feel needed as an integral part of the family.
You can foster self-confidence in your children by giving them responsibilities. Give your children tasks to take care of regularly so they become dependable and conscientious.
2. Share Your Own Struggles with Them
It’s important that your children understand that no one is perfect. Share your difficulties with your children so they can see that it’s normal to face challenges. Telling your children about problems you have at work or with various friendships is educational. Your children will begin to realise that it’s OK to be vulnerable and to have problems.
Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, says: “Through my research, I found that vulnerability is the glue that holds relationships together. It’s the magic sauce.”
Your children will gain confidence when they hear about your troubles, and about what you’re doing to overcome them. They’ll start to accept challenges as normal and realise that nothing worth doing comes easily.
3. Ask Them for Their Opinion
Asking someone for their opinion lets them know that their thoughts and feelings matter. If you ask your children for their views, they will feel valued and respected. You can get your children involved in reviewing their bedtime, setting family rules, or deciding what’s for dinner. You can even ask them about how they would handle certain challenges you face.
If you need to solve a problem, try asking your children for ideas. You might be surprised at how insightful they are, and how good they are at coming up with solutions. When you ask your children for their opinions, they’ll start to feel like they’re not just a child or a teenager. They’ll believe they have the power to make an impact in the world around them.
4. Focus on the Process, not the End Result
Remind your children that life isn’t about pursuing perfection. Instead, it’s about making progress. We’re all continually learning new life skills – and that takes effort.
The key thing isn’t that we get things right the first time; it’s that we put in the effort to practice and learn. Each time we try something we get a little better at it. It takes stamina, endurance and tenacity to keep practising something.
When you give your children praise, be sure to focus on the process. Tell them that you know they’ve put in work and you can see how they’re improving.
5. Don’t Rescue Them
It’s tempting to rescue your children when they experience hardships or difficulties. This makes life easier for them in the short term, but it can make them dependent on you in the long term. The problem is that rescuing your children from their struggles has the same effect as doing their homework for them.
We all have to learn to be resourceful and persistent, and we need to learn these skills while we’re growing up. Instead of rescuing your children, support and encourage them. Help them to find strategies they can use to solve their problems themselves.
6. Ensure that the Challenges are Appropriate for their Ability
Support your children by giving them achievable goals. This will set them up for success. It’s OK to stretch them so they learn, but the task needs to be manageable. No one would give a two-year-old a pair of shoes with laces and expect them to be able to tie them. Even with practice a two-year-old doesn’t have the fine motor skills needed for this task – it’s not a good match for their abilities.
My experience working with children and teenagers tells me that if they succeed about two-thirds of the time, that’s an appropriate challenge. If they succeed less often than this, the challenge is probably too hard.
7. Show Respect to Everyone
Children learn by observation, and they’ll treat other people the way you do. So be kind when you talk about other people, especially in front of your children. When you show respect to others, regardless of how much money they have, their social status or body shape, your children will learn to do this too.
You’re modelling the behaviour you want to see in them, and they’ll follow after you. So be intentional about demonstrating that character matters more than looks or popularity.
8. Become A More Confident Person Yourself
Your children are constantly observing you and learning from you, whether you realise it or not. Show them that you’re confident in your abilities, and value positive self-talk. If you say you’re not good enough or that you can’t take on new challenges, your children will adopt this mindset too. Instead, show them that you’re able to get outside your comfort zone and that you can adopt a positive mindset.
If you have to give a presentation at work, and you’re nervous about speaking in public, that’s OK. You can tell your children that you’re a bit afraid of being embarrassed, but let them see that you’re facing your fears head on. You might even ask them how they deal with the challenge of public speaking, or how they calm their nerves when they’re feeling anxious. They may come up with useful ideas, and you’ll grow together as a family.
9. Allow Them to Make Choices
Many children have little control over their lives. They’re told what time to get up in the morning, what to wear, what to eat, and how to spend their time. The problem is that everyone feels powerless when they’re not able to make decisions for themselves.
When you give your children choices, they learn how to make decisions, take responsibility and grow into confident adults. Whenever possible, give your children choices in the day-to-day aspects of their lives. It might be whether they’d prefer a bath or a shower, or what time they’d prefer to complete their homework.
10. Show Interest in the Things They’re Passionate About
Sometimes our children want to spend time doing things that we think are a waste of time. Maybe they want to spend hours writing stories, drawing, or making YouTube videos. Children need boundaries, but it’s also important that we encourage them to follow their passions. As a parent, show an interest in their passions – maybe even try them out for yourself.
Being interested in their hobbies will make them understand that they matter. They’ll believe that your love for them is unconditional, rather than based on performance.
11. Celebrate Small Victories
Celebrating achievements and small victories makes us feel good. By doing so, we realise how far we’ve come, and we’re more likely to take on challenges in the future. When your children make progress or overcome a fear, celebrate with them. The best kinds of celebrations involve doing something together as a family, such as having a picnic or going to the park.
Be sure to celebrate your own achievements too, so your children can acknowledge the progress you’ve made at work or in your personal life.
12. Manage Your Own Anxiety
When children constantly hear how anxious their parents are, they become anxious too. This affects their overall confidence. When you’re worried, analyse your concerns and identify which ones are rational and which ones aren’t. Then you can put plans in place to deal with your worries. Managing your own anxiety helps to reduce anxiety in your children.
Children will learn to deal with their worries in the same way that you do. So when you demonstrate that you can remain calm, your children will develop this skill too.
13. Acknowledge Their Disappointment
Let’s face it: Life is full of disappointments. You can’t shield your children from the discouragement they’ll feel at times. Acknowledge that everyone has bad days and that it’s OK to feel sad once in a while. It’s better to work through these feelings than to ignore or dismiss them.
Be patient with your children and let them know that their feelings aren’t “bad”. Remind them that life is about developing perseverance and mental strength. Once they’ve processed their negative feelings, they’ll look back and realise that they’ve grown stronger.
14. Help Them to Look Outside Themselves
I’ve observed that the children and teenagers who have problems with self-confidence are usually fixated on themselves. They’re so focused on their problems and flaws that they forget that life isn’t mainly about them.
Help your children to look outside of themselves and to see the big picture. Everyone has obligations, responsibilities and commitments, so help your children to focus on these things.
Once they realise that life is about making a difference in the world, and how they can contribute and serve others, their mindset will shift. They’ll spend more time thinking about how they can help others and add value to them. This means that their own insecurities and problems won’t seem so overwhelming.
15. Do Things with Them, Not for Them
Encourage your children to do things for themselves from as early an age as possible. Things like making their own breakfast, or getting their own drinks and snacks. If your children are too young to perform a big task like making dinner, get them to help by chopping vegetables or measuring ingredients. They may even be able to make a meal with some guidance from you.
This requires patience on your part as they’ll be slower and messier than you, but they need to learn to do things themselves. Over time they’ll develop confidence, and they’ll have a greater sense of responsibility. The key thing is to provide assistance rather than to do things for them.
- Raising confident children is about taking one step at a time.
- Think about the behaviour and attitudes you model, and make an effort to display the confidence you’d like to see in your children.
- Give them responsibilities rather than rescuing them or doing everything for them.
- Encourage them to treat others with respect, get them involved in decision making, and celebrate their victories.
- Before you know it, your children will be the confident, self-assured people you always hoped they’d become!