It has been said the gift we most want to give our children is confidence. Yes, it’s true that we want them to be happy and successful, we want them to do well in school, be good at sports, have lots of friends and achieve well in life. But confidence?
What do we mean by confidence?
The Oxford Dictionary defines it as ‘a feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities’
Why is confidence so important?
Well, a confident child will be able to achieve all their potential – perhaps not all the things listed above, but the confident child will be happy, resilient and have aspirations. They will be able to make good relationships, know what they are good at and be willing to have-a-go at new things.
So how do we grow confidence in our children?
We need to start with ourselves. Our children are observing us from the moment that they are born, taking their cues from us about life – how to live it, how to respond to challenges, how to feel about themselves. How we feel about ourselves will act as a mirror for their feelings about themselves.
So what can we do about growing confidence now?
- Start with ourselves
- How often do we denigrate ourselves in front of our children? Our children look up to us, admire us and appreciate what we can do. Yes, we need to be honest and transparent, but it is important that we acknowledge what we can do, and accept the positive comments that others make about us
- Acknowledge when we make mistakes and ask for forgiveness from our children. This way they learn how to respond when they make mistakes
- Don’t be afraid of failure, but recognise it as a great opportunity to learn. This will help your children to become resilient as they learn from you and as you support them in persisting with difficulties.
Help your child to develop a positive sense of self
- Spend one-to-one time with each child regularly, allowing the child to take a lead in choosing what you do together, taking an interest in their choices. Whatever age your child us, the message they receive is that you value them and accept them – as well as allowing them to see that you enjoy their company
- Focus on what your child can do and give them specific praise for their qualities as well as their achievements. Your child will know exactly what you consider is praise worthy and will also value that quality or achievement
- Encourage your child to try new challenges. You know what they can already do – what else may they be willing to try that will help to take risks and become more resilient? Resilient children become resilient adults who are confident to cope with changes in life
- Love your children – each of your children – unconditionally. This is hard. We all have great hopes for our children, what we want them to achieve, what we want them to be like, who we want them to be friends with – but each child is unique, and is born with a longing to be accepted and loved by the people closest to them. Unconditional love does not mean that we accept all their failings and wrong doings. Unconditional love means that we will love who they are, and yet we will challenge unacceptable behaviour.
Being a parent is a long-term commitment, and sometimes it can be really hard work, very lonely and isolating and time consuming. But we are not alone. Fegans is a local charity that wants to help families to become stronger, so that our children will be well equipped to face the changing worlds in which they are growing up.