I sat down with a friend recently in preparation for this blog launch and asked her what it is that she would want to learn from me, as a friend, and as a bystander, and her response was “how to raise confident children.” I have to admit that at first I was shocked. I remember looking at her and saying “confident children? For real, that’s what you want to learn from me?” And she looked at me and said, “with all you do, how do you have time to raise a child who is so confident, self-aware and kind.” Initially, I crossed the idea off of my paper but the more I thought about her question, the more I felt I had what it took to answer it.
Now, I haven’t been parenting long, just seven short years and it's only been in the last six months that I have been a parent of multiple children, but as I look back on the last seven years and the fruit of our parenting in Wisdom, I can look back on some very specific things that we have been intentional about stewarding in her. And let’s be real, no good friend let’s a question go unanswered.
How To Boost Your Child's Self-Confidence
So, how do you raise confident children? Here are three things that I work really hard to do in my parenting style.
Pay attention to the early signs of gifts, special talents and skills. When you see something pop up in them that seems to be something they are taking a more vested interest in, nurture it and if they move on from that to something else, nurture the next thing until they find something they love. Never allow them to quit in the middle, but don’t guilt them for wanting to try or do something different or new. The key is exploration and that’s what childhood is all about.
Be mindful of negatively highlighting something that could potentially be seen as an insecurity or fear. Don’t tease, chastise or discipline them for a fear or an insecurity and don’t make fun of them or embarrass them for a challenge or hardship they have. We all have things that are difficult for us and that we are trying to overcome. By negatively highlighting and participating in the narrative you’re only making it harder for them to work through that issue and may push them to hide it from you and try to deal with it on their own, and children aren’t always equipped to do that. Remain open and patient to helping them work through their fears, even if they are irrational.
Hear them out. Listen to what your kids have to say. Give them a chance to explain themselves and make their arguments. One of the most important things I have done with Wisdom is allowing her the opportunity to advocate for herself, even in situations where we don’t agree, and to take up space. There have been times where as a parent I was wrong, and had to apologize, and there have bene times where after she explains herself, I realize what great thought and ideas she has and I put them to work. This teachers her that what she has to say is important and even if things don’t go her way she is heard. I personally believe the first place children learn to stand up for themselves and to speak up for themselves is at home - if there is room for that to be practiced, so giving my children the chance to be heard is invaluable.
Let them make decisions. Give them options from which to choose. My kids don’t get options in everything, but where it makes sense, I love to see them express their opinions and practice decision making. I think it’s a positive exercise because life does come with choices and some are large and some are small and some are easy and some are tough and as much training they can get in coming to decision and good strong decision making it a powerful tool to put in that kit.
In December, I had the opportunity to hear Michelle Obama speak on her “Becoming” book tour. At the time I had no idea what the gender of my second child would be, but she said on her tour that her mother really trusted her and her brother when they were growing up. That she often reiterated that she wasn’t raising kids, but that she was raising adults and she always created opportunities for them to exercise being adults and putting the lessons they learned and the principles and values that she and her husband had instilled in them, to work.
That really stuck out to me.
That our job as parents is to teach our children how to survive in this world as adults and any way that they can walk in that while they are children is good training ground and only further sets them up for life in the future. I want to raise adults and from the looks of it, the fruit from our tree is turning out alright.
What are some ways you are raising confident children? I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts on this. Please share in the comments. Parenting is hard and it truly takes a village and I am so happy to have you as a part of mine.
With strength, courage and wisdom,