A person who is comfortable with who they are and believes in their own abilities has much fewer problems in life. Every parent would like to bring their child up to have great self-confidence, to avoid being the target of bullies, to have good friends, to be able to resist peer pressure, to be willing to have a go at a variety of activities, and to achieve what they are capable of doing. Some children are naturally shy, hesitant to try things, a bit anxious and limited in some abilities. So how can you encourage your child to become self-confident?
30 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Self-Confidence
1. When they are babies gaze into their eyes and smile and talk to them.
2. Give lots of kisses and cuddles to babies and young children. Treat each of your children with equal affection.
3. Trust is an important characteristic of good self-esteem. Children learn this very early by having parents who are reliable. When you say you will be somewhere, be there.
4. Have a household routine so they know what comes next – a getting up in the morning routine, bedtime routine, etc.
5. Give them praise for tasks they learn or improvements in things they are trying to achieve – like tying their shoelaces, making their beds, or cleaning their teeth.
6. Tell them you love them – even at the times when they haven’t been angels. Children need to know that love is unconditional.
7. Do not argue in front of your child. Set aside a time to discuss differences when the child is not in ear shot. Only speak positively of the other parent in front of the child – this is especially important for separated parents. Your child needs to love and respect both parents for his own self-development and future relationships.
8. Have simple rules that when broken have consequences – such as time out, avoid smacking as a first resort. Be consistent, what was a misdemeanour yesterday should not be funny today. Don’t nag, don’t raise your voice, don’t threaten, just follow the complete time-out sequence.
9. Distinguish between the child and the bad behaviour. Let them know they are OK (not stupid, dumb, clumsy, lazy, etc.) but the behaviour they just displayed was not acceptable.
10. Involve your children in your daily routine. Pre-schoolers love to help. Make the most of it before they grow out of it. Give them simple responsibilities they can do without much assistance.
11. Don’t make promises you can’t or don’t intend to keep. Don’t make threats you can’t or won’t carry out. This is important in developing the child’s ability to trust others.
12. Teach respect – manners, not interrupting, obedience – and make sure you provide a good role model.
13. Stay calm and positive. Plan your own alone time (a trip to the library, spa, or the shops, or a walk, a bubble bath, a coffee with a friend) – share the caring with your partner so you can each have an alone time every week.
14. Keep on top of your stress. Talk things over with your partner or a friend, get involved in a very physical activity and give it 100%.
15. Encourage good behaviour. Catch them out doing the right thing and make a big deal of it. Praise them, hug them.
16. Self-confidence is about feeling worthwhile – and this requires you giving your child a while of your time. Plan one-on-one time every week having fun together – twenty minutes might be all it takes.
17. Read to them, or if you are creative, tell them stories. Listen to them read – fun books as well as their school reader.
18. Talk together. A family meal around the table every evening is the ideal forum for this. Or chatting as you drive in the car. Learn to be a good listener and draw more out of your child. Always answer children’s questions.
19. Make a big deal of family occasions, such as birthdays. Celebrate achievements and milestones by doing something notable together.
20. Encourage children to solve their problems. Talk through their strategies. Don’t just provide solutions.
21. Be friendly to their friends. Encourage them to bring their friends into your home.
22. Give them space to experiment with their identity and social group. Talk to them about their experiences in a non-judgmental way. Allow them to develop their own views and listen to their thoughts.
23. Allow them to make mistakes and see them as a natural part of learning and growing.
24. Remember to apologise to your child if you have made a mistake.
25. Teach them who to go to for help – identify appropriate supports.
26. Watch them play sport. Attend their concerts. Go to parent days. Children feel valued when parents take an active interest.
27. Teach them personal safety. Have proper names for all their body parts. Give them permission to say “No” to anyone they don’t trust. Give them sex education.
28. Give them their own space and time. Respect their privacy. Don’t read their diaries or letters.
29. Let them know you will always be there for them – even if they have got into trouble by doing the wrong thing.
30. Laugh together.