Words shape a child’s self-image. Hurtful words, no matter how unintended, can scar children for a lifetime just as uplifting words can help them develop the self-confidence they will need to succeed throughout their lives.
How you talk to and treat your child will have a lasting impact on them. Constantly pointing out the negative about a child – how he doesn’t clean up his room after playing, how she doesn’t keep up with you when you’re walking fast, or how he doesn’t get perfect scores in school – will result in your child having a negative self-image.
Every parent has to reprimand or to criticize their children to a point. It’s natural to the learning and to the growing process. However, be sure that you offer even more praise than criticism. Praise lifts up children where criticism, even though it may not be intended to do so, can often break them down, especially if that’s all a child hears.
Seven Simple Ways to Instill Self-Confidence
Helping your child build self-confidence now is essential to how he or she copes with life in the future, and it’s something that’s fairly easy and won’t disrupt your lives. In fact, it will enhance both your life and your child’s life.
Say “I love you”
Tell your children you love them often and, just as important, show your children how much you love them through your actions. Kiss them after you tuck them in at night. Hug them before they go to school. Be their biggest cheerleader and the safe place they can turn when they need to talk or to vent.
Be positive when talking about your child
Always be positive when talking about your child, when he is within earshot, to family and friends. Save the complaining for a time when your child is not around. Talking negatively about children, especially to others, when they can hear can result in embarrassment and shame and can damage their self-confidence.
Give your child responsibility
Everyone wants to feel needed. Children are no different. Give your child responsibility in the house by assigning them chores that are age-appropriate. For example, you may have your five-year-old clean off the dinner table and load the dishes into the dishwasher. Or, your three-year-old may be charged with making sure all the dirty clothes are in the laundry basket.
In addition to teaching your child responsibility, chores help them develop self-confidence in knowing they can do a job and do it well.
Do not minimize or dismiss a child’s feelings
A meme is making its rounds on social media that touches perfectly on this concept: If you want your kids to tell you the important things when they are older, listen to them when they are younger because when they are little everything is important. Minimizing or dismissing a child’s feelings can make him feel as though his feelings aren’t important. Show interest in what your child has to say. What he’s told you may not seem like a big deal to you but if it wasn’t a big deal to him he wouldn’t have brought it up.
Separate the action from your child
Children don’t always listen nor do they always do what they’re supposed to do. That doesn’t make them bad. It makes them normal. However, if you constantly tell a child that she’s done something bad, she’s going to start believing that she is a bad kid.
Be sure to separate the action from your child. Maybe your child got mad and kicked you or another family member. Instead of yelling at her for being bad, say something like, “You’re a good kid and hitting is not nice or acceptable.” In other words, you’re affirming that she’s a good kid, and that she’s done a not-so-good thing.
Create attainable goals
Kids who feel a sense of accomplishment build self-esteem. Encourage your child’s independence by creating attainable goals. You might encourage her to dress herself, make her own bed, or put her night clothes on before bed. Praise her for a job well done when she completes the task. She will feel a sense of accomplishment and her self-confidence will grow stronger by knowing she can do what you have asked.
Nurture your child’s sense of self-trust
Children often go straight to their parents when faced with a problem. Parents naturally want to help their children. Let your child learn how to deal with problems on her own. Listen to what she has to say and encourage her to come up with a solution. A child who trusts her own judgment will grow into a self-confident adult.
Self-confidence and self-esteem aren’t concrete. Despite everything you do to nurture your child’s sense of self-confidence, he will have days when he doesn’t feel it. We all face cracks in our self-esteem and our self-confidence. Help your child overcome those waves of emotion by reading The Ocean together, a story that helps calm children when they are emotionally unsettled.
Just the surface of the ocean changes with the conditions around it… so to children are changed by conditions and our bodies are 80+% water.