As parents, it can be hard to watch your child in a situation where they are not feeling too good about themselves. Children tend to put themselves down a lot; they want to be able to do something exactly like others or they can sometimes get upset if someone is great in a certain discipline and they are not. Children can get frustrated easily if they can’t get the hang of things straight away. They tend to think of the now moment and have no concept to look into the future.
What can we do as parents to help our children feel happy and confident with themselves and guide them that it’s not about being perfect at everything?
This is an important thing to have, as even adults tend to put themselves down with lack of self-confidence, thinking that they are not good enough and there’s no point in even attempting something. There are a few simple ways we can guide them, for example:
1| Questions – Let them make decisions – like what we should have for dinner or what will we do today? Or get involved with a game they are playing and ask them to show you how to play.
2| Communicating – When you are shopping or having a bite to eat, let them go to the counter and buy something or let them order their own food. Ask them to get you more napkins cutlery etc. Talk to more people when you are out and be friendly. Let them know its ok to talk to people, as long as a trusted adult is with them and obviously they know the rights and wrongs and the safety of talking to strangers.
3| Patience – We all learn at our own pace. Just because we don’t get the hang of it immediately and someone else does, that’s not a reflection on them. We have our own way of learning things; sometimes we need different ways of things to be explained or shown to us.
4| Interests – Spend more time with them doing something they love. Even if you don’t like it and can find it boring (after twenty minutes of playing the part of Elsa or Cinderella I can go insane but my daughter loves acting and singing) but try to remember it’s not about you; it’s about giving them the time and showing you are interested too.
5| Lead by example – Adults can lack a lot of confidence in life situations also, but show them that you are willing to try at something and if you don’t succeed as well as you might have hoped, let them see it’s not that bad and just move on. Try to have a more carefree positive approach. Easier said than done at times but try not to let them see it.
6| Failure – If they think they are failing at something, ask how you can help; take it slow and find out why they think they are getting it wrong. What’s the main reason; sometimes it can be one little thing that makes the ‘aha moment’
7| Respect – Listen to their opinion, if they really don’t like that food you’re giving or don’t want to go to a particular venue etc. don’t force them. Let them speak up for themselves.
8| Behaviour – When correcting their behaviour, let them know it’s not them but the way they are behaving is the problem. For e.g.: You’re very bold – try: Your behaviour is bold right now and I don’t like it. I’ve been caught out with that a few times and the kids got so upset when they thought that’s how I saw them.
9| Chores – Let them get more involved around the house. Yes, it takes a lot longer and it can be frustrating but they like that they are doing grown-up things and getting involved
10| Role-Play – When they are in a situation that they have a fear of something or is upsetting for them, try a game of role-playing, like them being the superhero in a story and ask them what they would do to overcome that particular fear.
11| Intervention – Don’t be too quick to jump in and help them – let them figure it out themselves. It can be frustrating but it’s about a little patience.
12| Praise – Don’t overdo the praise, sounds weird but hearing ‘that’s awesome ‘great job, well done,’ on every little thing they do, is irritating and sounds fake. Especially, when it’s something they should be doing by now anyway like ‘brushing teeth’. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great achievement for them when they do anything for the first time but how long do you need to keep praising them for something they should be doing anyway at this stage. If they get overpraised on every little thing they do they’ll never learn the difference of actually achieving something new and the delight that comes with it. When you are giving them praise, let them know you really mean what you say and why you thought it was good
13| Accept – Accept them for who they are and their interests. Don’t enforce things on them just because you were good at something and you think it’s in the genes. They might not want to be a footballer or a dancer etc.
14| Bullies – If you think they are being bullied (click here), act on that immediately at the school. Bullying, if not acted on can be a long problem even when we are adults. Teach them when to stand tall and when to walk away.
15| Speaking out Loud – Have them read a story out loud or get them involved in activities that they need to speak out loud. (Click here) to find a range of activities for both adults and children.
Denise McCabe is a children’s book author and blogger. Her books include Spike, The Not So Nice Dinosaur, which had reached a #1 on Amazon. She resides in Dublin with her husband and two children. When she gets time, her favorite pastime is writing and reading with a cup of tea at hand. Her ultimate goal is to see her children grow up in a happy environment and live content, peaceful lives while trying to stay sane in the meantime. She would love to hear from her readers. Contact her at www.kidsstoriesblog.com
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