I’ve been reading about confidence in children partially because it fits in with my blog niche. Image & confidence certainly go hand in hand & if confidence is established at a young age, that’s definitely the best scenario! I’m also interested for personal reasons. As the mom of a toddler, this has been something I’ve been mindful of & hope to instill in him. One thing I’ve relearned is that praising your child too much & too often is not necessarily a good thing. Read on to find out why & other great tips!
It Starts with Responding to their Needs at Infancy
Attending to them when they cry, feeding them when they’re hungry, changing them, holding them etc. might seem basic but they are very important to a baby. Our attention to their needs lets them know they are valued. It gives them confidence that they will be cared for.
Play with Them
Let them initiate what to play; this tells them that you like what they choose. If what they choose gets monotonous for you, perhaps insert discussion or small changes. Lots of learning happens during play (which you can guide) & you’ll also learn more about your child at these times. Above all, playing with your child shows them they are worth your time & attention!
Chores are a Good Thing
This can start very young! Watch what your toddler is interested in and what they are capable of and then get them involved in household chores. Of course, make sure it’s age appropriate & safe. Toddlers may be able to help with some aspects of laundry, placing items in/out of machines. They might be able to help load/unload the dishwasher, help put dishes away in the lower cupboards, do some dusting with you & once tall enough, maybe help set the table; ideas will definitely come easier as they grow! They need opportunities to demonstrate their competence… & don’t forget to let them know their contributions are valued and appreciated!
This leads me to…
Over-praising – Not Good
The first reason to not over-praise; if it’s too common, they won’t hear it after a while & it will just be lost on them. Save the praise for especially good behaviour or actions.
Do not praise things they are supposed to do – a simple thank-you is enough. This could include washing their hands, putting toys away etc.
Over-praising can actually “lower the bar”. If you continuously tell them they are doing a fantastic job, they may feel they don’t need to push themselves to do more. Confidence comes from trying & failing, trying again – from practice! Their self-esteem will come from feeling loved, secure & from developing competence – this takes time & effort!
Offer Appropriate Praise
A good idea when praising your child is to make it specific. For example, after a soccer game you might tell them “it was great how you passed the ball to ________ (teammate)”
Let them Make Decisions
Give them options about some things (not everything) but some things that are negotiable. For example, you might let them choose which fruit they would like for dessert; the banana or the apple or which pajamas they’d like to wear etc. Allowing them to make their own decisions is empowering!
Pursue their Interests
Expose your child to a variety of activities & then pay attention to which ones they enjoy most! It’s important that the activities you introduce are age appropriate, not only for safety but also so they can manage it. If something is too hard for them and not even within their reach, you’ll just be setting them up for failure. What you want is to pursue attainable goals. Once they find something they love, encourage it! Whether it’s throwing a ball or swimming laps; encourage them to practice, strive to do more, get better, so they will feel a sense of accomplishment!
Let them Make Mistakes
This one can be hard for a lot of us but step back & let your child take healthy risks. Again, you’ll need to judge what’s appropriate for their age/abilities but letting them try things is how they will learn & become competent in the world. It can be a physical task like those first steps; it could also apply to an older child who wants to perform at a school assembly. We have to let them take risks and know that it’s okay to fail; it’s normal to feel anxious, even sad or angry.
They also need to learn to overcome obstacles; not have us as parents, remove them. When they do accomplish something, even if it takes quite a few tries; they will feel proud (& this is a good time for praise 😉)
“Glass is Half Full”
If your child tends to get defeated easily, teach them to be optimistic. Remind them of what they have already accomplished and to focus on getting better.
Promote Problem Solving
If your child comes to you with a problem, ask how they think they should handle it. If their first solution isn’t appropriate, ask what they think might happen…& just guide them from there.
Your Love Is Unconditional
Even when they fail, let them know that you are proud of them for trying. Make sure they know you are not disappointed & yes, let them know you love them no matter what!
Feel Special – help kids discover their unique talents & qualities and to value their own strengths. But also teach them that feeling special doesn’t mean feeling better than others.
Set Goals – teach kids to work towards a goal & to have pride in their accomplishments. Provide them with opportunities for success.
Try, Try Again – encourage your children to try things their own way, face challenges & take risks.
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