6 Ways to Raise a Confident Child
There are two ways to get to the moon: jump on a rocket or a very long stairway. Which would you choose? If you’re in a rush, you take the rocket, the stars whoosh by in a blur, you have the thrill of the ride and in a flash you arrive at your destination. What if you choose the stairs? Yes, it takes considerably longer, but you can stop to linger and marvel at the beauty of the stars and planets. You build up your muscles taking one step after the other. You might even stop off at a couple of other planets on a little intergalactic pitstop.
When you’re not in a hurry to get somewhere you can soak up the sights and build a strong foundation of understanding, taking your time to learn and absorb along the way.
Which one would you take? If you are asking yourself: What does all of this have to do with your child’s confidence? If you’re impatient and just want to skip to the answer without laying the foundation, then you are in the rocket. If on the other hand you are starting to see a message unfold and want to really understand how to help your child, you are on the stairs, building a strong foundation of understanding. Let me walk with you and explain how.
3 Macro Tips for building your child’s confidence
Routine. Consistency. Reliability. This one you’re probably familiar with. If a child does not have to worry about their basic needs, know they can rely on you and that they are loved, they are less likely to develop an anxious mindset.
Remember, especially in times of hardship not to pass on your fears or disrupt your “normality”. Your fears become their fears. The world can be falling apart but if you are stable, they can handle anything. Never worry about when their next meal is, erratic spikes in behaviour (leads to anxiety) or question if they are loved.
Your responsibility is to look after their basic needs. Even if your situation is not ideal. Looking after your child’s basic needs is a must. Their happiness will even give you comfort. If you don’t, your child will fret more, become anxious and unsure. This is an insecure child, not a confident one. You have to deal with the adult problems and give them space to grow as a child.
Routine doesn’t mean boring. Have things to look forward to.
Let’s not confuse this with achievement. Learning is the process of creating a patchwork quilt that eventually cloaks your child offering them shelter, guidance and comfort. If they have knowledge they become self-sufficient. Knowledge empowers them to tackle challenges and make smart, informed decisions.
Achievement does come into play as well, as they feel pleased with themselves and this boosts their sense of self-worth. But achievement on its own can be empty. We don’t want to over inflate their ego with pride.
This factor may be less familiar to you in this context. It goes hand-in-hand with learning and stability.
For example, do not let your child watch a 15-rated film if they are not 15. This is erratic, unfounded behaviour that will confuse them. THey will find it more difficult to discern right from wrong. We need to build them up slowly. They first have to be able to understand the messages of films for kids in their age group. They will not understand the subtleties of the humour designed for an older audience. They will not be able to process any disturbing messages in the same way as a young adult can.
Do not hurry your child’s childhood. Once they understand a certain set of boundaries they will be pushing for the next, it gives them something to strive for. If you open up the floodgates, they are like jelly on a hotplate.
It starts with bars on the bed—a cot not a strange prison!—a child gate at the top of the stairs, then stopping them from wandering outside f the house on their own.
Helping them cross the road until they are old enough to check for themselves. Helping them navigate the options in the playground until you can let go and watch them try on their own.
Once they have gone through the previous steps, they have the skills to move to the next with greater self-confidence. They need to learn the foundations. They need boundaries to push. And it doesn’t stop when they are teens. They still push for later hours, not doing homework, etc. more TV… your teen is just a taller version of your toddler with a greater arsenal of vocabulary and mood swings.
3 Micro tips for building your child’s confidence
- Give them responsibility
- Listen with an open mind, heart and ear.
- Daily healthy habits
1. Give them responsibility
This of course needs to be age appropriate. I have listed some suggestions below. Instruct them first on how to do the job, show them how you do it. Give them a one-liner to make their goal memorable. e.g. “Wipe it. Clean it. Bin it.” or “Make it green.” Then:
- Leave them to it.
- Do not interfere.
- Do not tell them what they have done wrong.
- Do not give false praise.
Jobs for under 5s: put toys away, pair socks together, wash the car, tidy the lounge before bath time, rake up leaves
Jobs for over 5s: bake biscuits for local emergency services, feed the birds, make cup of tea for parents, do the recycling, do the washing up, plant vegetables in the garden
2. Listen with an open heart
When someone is talking, we’re often just waiting for them to finish so we can say what we want. We want to share our experience of the same thing they described. We are not being selfish, we are trying to build a bridge and show we understand. To connect. However, whilst we are busy formulating our answer, making sure we don’t forget, we are missing out on key points in what our friend is saying. Or in this case, our child.
It is essential that we listen as they may be giving us important messages about stuff that is bothering them, something they are excited about… children aren’t always black and white blurting out exactly what comes into their head—sometimes stuff that has been fermenting a long time in their brains comes out. It can be a cry for help, something that happened to them or is happening to them that they don’t understand.
Remember, your child has not had years of practice at this communication thing like us, and even then we find it hard to express how we truly feel. It is impossible to convey exactly how you are feeling to someone else as we all have our own filter through which we infer and digest information (e.g. our personality, our memories and experiences—these all taint how we interpret and relay things, actions and feelings).
Listen and learn. Invest time in your child, the payback will come back thousandfold.
3. Daily healthy habits
Have you read “Atomic Habits” by James Clear or heard about the compound effect of good habits? These great tips for personal development and self-improvement are not just reserved for adults. Like those of us who chose the stairs to get to the moon, we can build up our child’s confidence muscles and strength by encouraging them to take little steps on a healthy path every day.
Shooting for the stars may get you there quicker, but what do you learn and see on the way?
That is why I am an active advocator of journaling. It is not keeping a diary of all the boys or girls you fancied at school or
It is a record of your thoughts and dreams, a place to reflect on yourself and the world around you every day. It keeps you on track. Increases your level of awareness. If your child takes up this practice, it’ll help them understand the principle: Every action causes an effect. They begin to think before acting rashly.
Kiki’s I CAN Journal for kids guides your child through a journey of personal victories, mindfulness and new challenges. It prompts them to reflect and experience a sense of achievement. In addition to this it gives you an opportunity to bond as it provides a point of conversation. Plus, it makes your child a more caring person: for themselves, others and the world they live in.
Kiki and Friends can help your child become fearless, caring and roar with a lion’s confidence. Let’s help get them ready for an ever-changing world. Let’s give them the gift of inner confidence for life.
Thank you to Cheree Sauer @heartfeltmamas for inspiring me to write this article.