10 easy steps to encourage self confidence in your child
It's what we all want for ourselves and for our children: A huge bucket of self-confidence can take us far. It makes us emotionally resilient to life's little hiccups, it helps us to feel good about ourselves and it helps us venture into the unknown so we can grow as people and lead a rich happy and healthy life. Just as you would create healthy habits for your child's physical body - 5-a-day, fresh air, good sleep and exercise, how about creating some healthy habits for their emotional well-being. If your child has solid foundations and a good sense of who they really are, they will be happy from the inside out. They won't rely on external factors such as fashion, physical appearance, gadgets and other material things to make them feel good. Here are 10 easy steps that you can use to help your child grow their own self confidence.
1. Lead by Example - How confident are you? How good do you feel about yourself? Children are the world's greatest mimics and here is a lovely poem that demonstrates that your child doesn't always listen, but is constantly watching you. If you want your child to behave confidently, work on developing yourself first. It doesn't have to be expensive - perhaps finding a self-help video on Youtube or ordering a good self-help book from Amazon will do the trick. Two of my favourites are ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway!’ by Susan Jeffers and ‘You can Heal your Life’ by Louise L Hay.
2. Celebrate your Child's Success - When your child achieves something at school or overcomes something they are struggling with, acknowledge and praise them for their efforts. Not so much for who they are: 'good boy / good girl' but more about 'you've worked so hard for that or you've been trying so hard to do x.' Maybe put together a scrapbook or wall of fame in the house as a reminder of how far they have come. Most of us do this naturally by putting artwork or certificates on the fridge at home. However, creating a special space or book specifically for that child will mean more than it being lost amongst the general notices and reminders. It will also help you focus more on the positive (see point 8)
3. Know your Child’s Love Language – There are 5 love languages which show your child you love them on their terms. When they feel safe and secure in your love for them, they respond better to learning, discipline as they feel really good about themselves.
4. Know the Power of your Smile - Here’s the thing: have you ever tried feeling sad when you are smiling? Nope, well you can’t. Not a real bobby dazzler that goes from ear to ear and crinkles up your eyes. Something as simple as smiling can lift your child’s mood if they are feeling unsure of themselves. Teach them the power of their smile and how when somebody is smiling at you, it makes you feel good.
5. Attitude of Gratitude – What you focus your attention on grows bigger so encourage your child to do this. Make it a point of discussion at the dinner table or a game you play before you tuck them in at night by listing 5 things that have happened throughout that day, they are grateful for. It can be as simple as sharing a hug or having a yummy tea or a nice bubble bath. People who focus on the good things in their life, attract more of the same to them.
6. Relaxation – I’m a huge fan of mindful breathing. The actress Goldie Hawn has written a fabulous book called ’10 Mindful Minutes’ which highlights the benefits of going quietly within to find your peace. Children who can do this are more in tune with themselves, can manage their stress levels and anxiety and also their big emotions such as anger and sadness.
7. Independence – It's a parent’s job to give their child roots and wings. You want them to fly away and be OK without you there. So, make sure you give your child choices that are age appropriate. Encourage them to make decisions for themselves. Also let them have a go and allow them to try new things without taking over or doing it for them. Perhaps the odd suggestion if they are really stuck like: ‘When I do it, I find it helps if you try…..’ or gently encourage them and show them you have faith in them (see point 10)
8. Positive Thinking – This isn't just about pretending everything is OK. This is about getting your child to watch their thoughts. You want their internal voice and the way they speak to themselves to be the way they would speak to a friend. Not a harsh one that beats them up when they have lost their path or one that worries about what may go wrong. A good tool for rewriting negative thoughts is affirmations. An affirmation is like a mantra: a positive word or a phrase we repeat over and over again until it becomes our truth. Here are some examples of affirmations that children can say to help them feel more confident about themselves.
9. Strong sense of self – It’s really important we know who we are, what we are good at, where we are going in life, what we want to achieve. Encourage your child to try out new things and step out of their comfort zone. Help your child do this by making a vision board of who they are and what they want to become. It’s a very powerful exercise and helps your child visualise what they want their life to be like and set achievable goals around achieving it.
10. Gently coax and encourage – this means don't criticise. Children learn about how well they are doing by how their parents react to their behaviour. Offer praise at least twice as often as you criticize (and try for four times as often). How many times a day do you find yourself saying to your child ‘Don’t forget this, stop doing that, don’t do that, don’t be so noisy?’ You are your child’s mirror and you reflect back to them who they are. Remind them of their lovely qualities and their strengths (see point 9). It’s also in the language you use. Start sentences with ‘Remember’ instead of ‘Don’t forget’ and tell them what you want them to do and not what you don’t want them to do. Also remember to be realistic about your expectations of your child depending on how old they are and allow them to make mistakes that are learning experiences. Help them come to terms with things that don't go the way they want them to by looking at what they could do differently next time and validating their feelings about the situation (even if you don't necessarily agree). 'Yes that's sad / annoying / unfair etc.'
This article is courtesy of Life Coaching with Lisa Parkes. Lisa is an experienced and qualified Child Coach who believes in helping your kids feel great from the inside out. She was recently featured in the Daily Mail for her transformational work with children. Lisa is passionate about making growing up a little bit easier. Her toolbox for getting the best out of your kids includes creativity, games, music interpretation, activities and exercises. Lisa is also the founder of SuperKids (www.lisaparkeslifecoaching.co.uk/superkids). Lisa is CRB checked and a member of the Association for Coaching.
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