I thought I was the only one who seems to always be on the lookout for ways to improve my kids's self-confidence. After all…more than ever before, we seem to live in a society that values (no, even demands) we are confident and self-assured in our own mind and in terms of how we behave.
What about you? As a parent, are you more concerned about your child's self-confidence than say bullying, anger management or other social/psychological challenges they may experience growing up?
WHY SELF-CONFIDENCE MATTERS
In today's society people are forced to make more decisions in less time which means that those of us who must convince or persuade others have to be more effective than ever. It goes without saying that one major factor in our ability to quickly persuade or impress someone else is self-confdence.
Looking at some of the most successful people ever in Beyond Greatness, one of the 5-Pillars of greatness is self-confidence — so those of us who are concerned for our kids level of self-esteem fundamentally kn0w this to be an important quality they must posess as they grow older.
Now, we find out we are not alone. A recent survey commissioned by Big Brothers and Sister's organization finds that the #1 concern parents have for their kids is low self-confidence…a full 62% cited concern in that area beating out other issues such as bullying and alcohol/drug addictions likely supporting the notion that low levels of confidence are often the catalyst for other negative experiences our children have as they grow.
All of this said, let's note a couple of cautions about judging self-confidence in our kids:
1. Kids mature at different speeds, your 10-year old may not yet have the strong self-confidence that his peers have at school, that doesn't mean he will never have self-confidence, it may just mean he hasn't yet fully developed his place in the world
2. Outward appearance isn't everything. Many people make the mistake of confusing being outgoing or an abundance of outward behavior as self-confidence where a quiet, less competitive or more reflective person is thought to have lower self-confidence. Instead of looking at how outgoing they are socially, look for signs of happiness, contentment, self-assuredness, taking interests in things, and having a close circle of friends as opposed to looking at how outward their personality is.
On the other hand, signs of low self-cofidence can include:
- Have trouble dealing with their emotions (not just periodically, but often)
- Are unhappy more than they are happy
- Often hesitate or refuse to do what they want to as fear overtakes them
- Are unable to act independantly or take responsibility
- Shy away from new opportunities (as a rule rather than the occasional dislike)
Note – we all go through points in our lives when we are operating at lower self-esteem than at other times, kids are no different. So, if there is something quite new such as a move, a new school year, or other major life change, give them some time before you judge them as needing a boost to their confidence.
3 Ways To Boost Your Kids Self-Confidence
1. Make sure they feel loved and wanted. I've noticed this with many families struggling with kids who have low self-confidence, they have lost touch with their kids. It's easy to do in today's busy society. Look for ways to spend more time with them, talk with them, share moments – become active in their life again and you will have set the foundation for strong self-confidence. Making sure your child feels loved doesn't increase their self-confidence immediately, instead it sets a strong foundation upon which their own growth can occur.
2. Help them get to know themselves. So much about childhood and learning is about others teaching them about the outside world, how to act toward others, more and more about the world around them…but what about how they get to know themselves? I was in my 20's before I really figured out how important it was to take some time each day to get to know what was inside of me…you can help kids do this with introducing them to concepts of personal improvement, visualization, breathing exercises, imagination games and even introduce the basics of meditation to them.
3. Stop doing things for them…instead encourage them to do for themselves. This is tough to do, but instead of doing things for them, let them try things and make mistakes. There will be messes, they will occasionally get hurt, and their will be times where it will pain you more than them…but letting go while still loving them is crucial for them to grow their self-confidence.
There are two common causes for severe low self-esteem among kids…not loving them enough and smothering them.
The key to increasing your child's self confidence is offering them unconditional love, get involved in their lives and know when to back off and let them make their mistakes. I know, easier said than done, but the stakes are high.
What have you found works to improve your kid's self confidence?