03 November 2015

Raising A Confident Kid

"You've always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself."
The Wizard of Oz

belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance:

I wish there was a secret manual that taught parents the key to raising confident children. As adults, we know how important a positive self-esteem is on our lives, our careers and our overall social well-being. But what exactly is the key to a strong self-esteem? I have no doubt that our self-confidence is built and developed in our childhood, but how do we teach our children self-confidence?

The truth is, I have no idea. In fact, one of my very own children lacks self-confidence, one is probably slightly over-confident and one falls right smack-dab in the middle. My kids are all over the map, which is why this topic seems to reappear fairly often in my mind. I want to teach my children balance, the difference between confidence and arrogance and I want them to understand their inner strength and identity. I want them to be outgoing; I want them to use their own voice. But like my three children, every child is different and every child is made up of different building blocks that are unique in their very own way. I certainly don't have the answers and I wish I did, but I have made observations over the past few years and have found these guidelines to be helpful.

Communication Is Key
Talk, talk, talk. That is one of the biggest components of communication and self-esteem. Talk about your day, talk about school, talk about friends. Make sure to ask your child open-ended questions to keep the conversation going. Get creative and think outside of the box. Instead of asking "How was school today?" try and ask "What was your favorite thing you did today?" or "What did you play on recess?" Talking around the dinner table is one of the highlights of my days. We have the chance to discuss our ups and our downs, which is very important for expressing feelings and keeping the lines of communication open. Talking in a casual environment also teaches basic communication skills which, as adults, we know are imperative in school, jobs and in our society.

Give Responsibilities
I know that I fall victim to my children; sometimes it is just easier to do something for them versus they do it for themselves. I am slowly learning to break this habit. Doing something on your own not only teaches responsibility but it also gives you a sense of strength and confidence.

Be A Cheerleader
From the sidelines! We all know that positive praise feels good, but as a parent it's very easy to go overboard. Choose your words wisely and focus on detail instead of the bigger picture. When your child brings you a painting, it's very easy to say, "This is the most beautiful painting, you are the best painter!" While you are giving praise you are also sending a conflicting message. Is it the most beautiful painting ever? Are they the best painter? Instead, compliment them on the details. "I love how you combined all these colors together, very creative!"

Get Active And Get Outside
You certainly can't learn confidence by sitting around all day on the couch. Go outside and play together. Play an activity that your child enjoys and let yourself get into it; happiness is contagious. If you smile and laugh, they will smile and laugh. Leading an active life also reflects responsibility and self-identity. Enroll your children in various activities so they are able to discover what they enjoy. Sports teach you body strength, mind strength and leadership which all lead to self-confidence.

Encourage Creativity
Step aside and let your children express themselves. Whether it's how they want to decorate their space, how to dress or how to wear their hair give them room to discover who they are and what they want. By constantly telling them how to do something, your child may feel insecure and lack the confidence to communicate what they really want or how they really feel. Let them be the leader, let them make choices and see what direction it takes them. Taking risks (small, healthy ones) may actually teach them something. Instead of jumping in, watch and observe. Let them learn from their mistakes and from their successes.

Be Positive
Role models are the best influences on our youth. We may not think so, but our children look up to us. Choose your words and actions wisely because you are being watched. Even if I'm in a rut, I always watch what I say and how I talk about myself. If I come across as confident then chances are my children will also reflect confidence. Stay healthy and stay active. Not only is it good for you but it sends the right message; I am strong, I am happy, I am positive.

What has your experience been with raising a confident kid? Do you have any tips or thoughts to share? Advice or suggestions?

*This post is in partnership with FabKids

FabKids is JustFab's fashion club, started by a team of parents including mom and actress Christina Applegate. FabKids is a convenient way for busy parents to shop. It's an outfit club -- so parents get monthly selections of super affordable, high-quality fashions personalized for their kids.

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