How to raise a confident child when you’re not a confident adult.

We all want our kids to develop into strong, confident individuals but what happens when as a parent, you’re not quite as confident as you’d like to be?

The good news is that there are ways to encourage your child’s confidence, while working on your own.

image via istock

Think about yourself.

Before you even think about teaching your child how to develop their confidence, you’ll have to work on your own, says Dr. Belinda Akins a Sydney based Psychologist. “It won’t happen immediately and we shouldn’t expect it to, but thinking about body language, the way we talk while our children are watching us can all assist you in coming across as a more confident person”. She recommends practicing in the mirror; stand with your feet facing the person that you are talking to, meet their eyes and smile where appropriate." 

When you’re faced with uncomfortable situations, take a minute to breathe. When we are anxious, we tend to rush through our words, often stumbling or stuttering. Slowing down your speech will automatically make you appear more confident to others.

“A common fault for a lot of women who are anxious is that they place inflections at the end of sentences. That’s when your voice goes slightly higher, almost as if you’re asking a question,” says Belinda. “Try and keep your speech neutral and believe in what you are saying.”

Don’t helicopter

It’s normal as parents to want to protect your child from getting hurt, especially if you yourself experience anxiety in certain situations but try and avoid hovering over your kids. Belinda says, “We are actually doing more harm than good if we shield our children from normal emotions. Part of growing up and gaining confidence in ourselves is to experience natural emotions like disappointment, sadness or anger. We then learn to regulate ourselves and are better prepared next time we experience a similar situation.” Dealing with our emotions builds self esteem because we learn to overcome challenges and negotiate our own way through.

Allow your kids to make their own decisions

Belinda says that you can work on building confidence in a child from a young age, simply by allowing them to make age appropriate decisions. This could be small things like what they include in a lunchbox, or what they wear during the day but independence fosters confidence simply because children see they are able to achieve things for themselves and can be proud of their accomplishments.

Getting your kids to undertake small, age appropriate tasks can be a great way for them to build confidence. Image: istock

Avoid over-praising

Many parents believe that praising a child is a good way to build their confidence and self esteem but Belinda says it should be done with caution. “Over praising a child, telling them they are doing a great job all the time removes the need for them to try harder, to push themselves to the next level. Building confidence in a child will come from allowing them to try and fail, and try again. I really think that telling kids they are perfect all the time sets them up to fail because none of us are perfect all the time.”

Remind your children of your love

It’s important that children understand that you love them no matter whether they succeed or not. “Confidence comes from feeling supported. Being there for your child when they experience a set back is equally as important as being there to celebrate their achievements.”

Remind your child that how you feel about them is not based on their achievements or failures. Image: istock

Stop apologising

A lot of people who lack confidence find themselves apologising for small, trivial things. Your children see you do this and pick up on your behaviours so try and keep that in mind when out and about. It can take time to change behaviours that have been in place for a long time but try and stop yourself for apologising for small things and things that are beyond your control. 

Teach yourself and your children how to accept compliments

“Challenge yourself,” says Belinda. “If you get uncomfortable when someone pays you a compliment, try and make a conscious effort to simply smile and say ‘thankyou’. It’s a confident person who can accept a compliment for it’s intended purpose. Teach your children how  to respond when someone says something nice to them."


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