Have I ever told you that my middle son was very shy? To be honest, I quite liked it. Whenever we would meet new people he would bury his head into me and whisper in my ear, BUT one day I felt a nudge, I had a choice – I could hold him close and keep him looking at me or I could be close and teach him how to live courageously & confidently.
Fast forward 10yrs & that once shy boy is now strong and confident. (Introverted, but bold.)
I have discovered one of the most life changing, confidence building truths you give your children is …
“I am significant, I am safe, I belong”
ONE – Find a hobby your child is good at.
This builds significance (I am good at this), they make friends and it increases a sense of belonging.
When we find others who share the same passions & experiences, we feel more confident.
TWO – Give them basic life skills.
I know it’s quicker and easier sometimes to just ‘get on’ with things, doing it ALL is more convenient (in a busy schedule) than teaching them. But when we ‘do it all’ we risk becoming a Helicopter Parent; we over-protect, over-parent & hover over them – instead of building confidence we build anxiety and fear. Deep down our children form a belief system that because they were never trusted they mustn’t be good enough or able.
(Want to know if you helicopter parent? Take this BBC quick test)
When children do things for themselves it proves that:
I am significant – MY hands, ME, I did this! I can make a difference!
I am safe – it’s ok to get it wrong here & learn how to put it right.
I belong – we share a common goal, I am an important part of this family.
When we give them skills we build their confidence and strengthen self-esteem!
Have you seen the things younger children can create? Dens, Lego sets, minecraft worlds, role plays, tree climbing, complex and interesting drawings and models. These skills are totally transferable!!
Younger children should be able to:
Tie their shoelaces
Eat by themselves & use cutlery
Polish shoes & put their own shoes on
Make their bed & tidy up after themselves
Help with family chores such as sorting laundry into piles & taking out the trash
Hoover & polish
Have you seen what older children can figure out? Complex maths problems, trampoline skills, sporting and musical achievements.
These skills are totally transferable!!
Older children should be able to:
Order from a restaurant & ask where the restroom is
Make reservations or speak on the telephone
Pay at the checkout
Read a map & know how to give directions
Clean a bathroom & the car
Operate a washing machine, hoover, dishwasher & iron
Make a meal, bake a cake and pack their own lunch
Change their bedding, make their beds open their blind
Set an alarm clock and use it
& so much MORE…….
And teenagers…well there’s no limit to what they can do, they are highly competent and able!!
Studies have shown that when parents do things for their children that they can do for themselves it lowers their self esteem. Instead, hold back from trying to fix everything, in the struggle, homework & chores etc. Offer help but let them figure it out.
I recently walked past a family in the street power-washing a car. The dad was teaching his son to use the jet-washer – the lad was delighted; the smile on face was huge! He began struggling and missed a spot – in an instant the dad took the hose and chastised him for not getting it right. The boys face changed; he shrunk back into the curb and put his head down – his confidence was crushed.
So go easy on them at first – it’s super unrealistic to expect children can do chores as you would (I mean in fairness, I have never perfected a duvet cover without a struggle, washed up without finding a dirty pot & many times one sock never made it to the machine).
THREE – We build their confidence in the way WE behave
‘The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice’ Peggy O’Mara
Did you know most of what we communicate is done in a non-verbal way? How we speak to our children with our actions is the most impacting, because it forms the basis of their inner voice & it is especially important for children to know they are safe & secure, to know that we as parents are safe, steady and can provide for their needs.
We can show this in simple ways – spending quality time, eating meals together at the table, looking your children in the eye, knowing what they are interested in, filling their time well, providing healthy food, speaking kindly, setting good boundaries, providing clean clothes, being consistent, modelling good life choices, being quick to say sorry & more – these ALL build confidence.
Brave it today, give your children challenges at home or a new activity to learn & some of your undivided attention and watch their confidence grow!