Oct 23, 2016

14 Easy Ways to Boost Your Child's Confidence

Plus pictures from field trips to the Children's Museum of Phoenix and the Science Museum

Sometimes we can get so caught up in life that we forget to think of the feelings of our little people. I know that sometimes I can get so caught up in a project that my whole day has gone by and I haven't really engaged with my little ones the way I know I should. That can really put a damper on a little person's feelings. They notice that you're too busy, they notice that you are frustrated. This can, if continued, cause a dive in your child's self-esteem and confidence. If you've been there or you just want to make sure your child is as confident as they can be keep reading.

Tell them they are great at something. Who doesn't love to hear how great they are. Even babies learn self confidence from their parents. But it's not just about saying "you're such a great kid" or "you did good on that test". It's about telling them specifically "you are really great at stacking blocks". Telling your child specifically what they are great at something improves their confidence and can spark more interest in that subject with positive reinforcement. 

Have dinner together. Seeing the whole family together at the table shows your child they are part of a team. Feeling like they belong to something shows your kiddo that they have someone to root for them, that there are people that care, and they always have someone they can run to. As adults when we join a group or team the feeling of belonging to something bigger than us gives us better confidence to blow the competition out of the park. Imagine what that does for a child and his view on life.
Let them teach you something. Kids don't always want to hear that their parents know more than them. Even if you do know sometimes pretend like you don't. Letting them teach you something solidifies the information in their own minds. The repetition of the information helps them remember it. It also shows them it's OK not to know everything and that no one knows everything. And being able to teach a parent is such a boost of confidence. It's like telling your teacher something they didn't know. It makes them feel smart and it makes them want to learn more to teach more.

Help them correct mistakes. It can be a big hit on their confidence if they make a mistake, but it doesn't have to be if you handle it correctly. Everyone makes mistakes, it's how we learn. So if you approach your child in that manner that is how they learn to deal with mistakes. For example, if your child spills her juice, you let her know that she made a mistake but it's OK because now we get to fix it. Show her how to wipe up the spill and give her tips so the mistake won't happen again.  
Let them help cook. Preparing a meal is a life skill. Of course you can order take out or drive to a fast food restaurant but learning to cook your own fried rice is a totally different confidence boost than coming through the door with take out. First, it's always nice to do another activity with mom. Second, this life skill will help them survive, stay healthy, and save money as adults. Kids that cook have a different confidence and maturity than kids that haven't learned yet.  

Let them help clean up. When I'm going around the house cleaning up my sweet little Brett always grabs the broom and tries to help. At first I told him no no no, don't touch that and he would get mad. So I started telling him thank you for helping mommy and the smile on his face made me smile. Let them help clean up, even if they are making it worse. Not only does it encourage them to be clean people but they learn to help others. It also makes them feel like they are part of the team and everyone has responsibilities in a team.  
Encourage individualism. If your child wants to take his clothes off himself, let him. If she wants to brush her own teeth, let her. Kids that are encouraged to do things on their own feel more confident that they can do more things that they couldn't do before. They start trying to do other things on their own and although getting dressed may now take forever, your child feels so good about the new things they can do for themselves. So teach them to clean up on their own and brush their own teeth. But be mindful when they want to do something that's inappropriate for their age, don't let them do everything hoping to boost their confidence. Some things just aren't for them to do for themselves yet. 

Give choices. When you give a kid the opportunity to choose they feel like you trust their judgment. They think they are getting what they want every time and that makes them happy. For example, during snack time show your toddler two healthy options and let them choose which they will eat. In reality you made the choices but they feel like they just get what they want all day. That helps them with feeling mature and responsible. 

Spend quality time together. Everyday I try to spend at least 30 minutes one on one with each of my little ones. Giving each child your undivided attention helps create a tighter bond with that child. A tighter bond with you means they grow up knowing mom or dad knows them, their likes and dislikes, their favorite games. They feel more connected to the entire family just because they spent 30 minutes alone with you. Set a goal everyday to spend at least 10 minutes alone with your child everyday. Whether it's taking a bath and talking about what you all did that day or just pulling him to the side while the other parent plays with another child. Schedule it out if you have to. It's such a confidence boost to your little one because it helps them feel important enough for one on one time.  
Create special things you only do with that child. With my oldest son we like to act out the movies we watch. We are dramatic. That shows how much we watch the same movies but that's not the point. He will come to me on his favorite parts and just start acting them out and I will join in. My youngest son is still breastfeeding so we stare into each others eyes, we fist bump when he feels like it was a good feeding. Even after 19 months of breastfeeding we still connect when we do it. That's part of the reason it's taking me so long to stop. My step daughter and I like to set dates to do our nails together. We set up our supplies and go to town. We do our nails and our feet on a different day. Having that special thing is kinda like having an inside joke with each kid. It lets them know that you know they exist among all the chaos of your day and stresses of your life. Your child is confident that mommy or daddy has a special connections with them.

Create a schedule. Don't you feel better when you know what's going to happen throughout your day? When you know what chores need to be done and you have dinner all planned out. You just breeze through your day with a smile knowing what comes next and that you have everything you need. It's the same for kids. If they know that after breakfast they brush teeth they will be so much happier. I know that when I deviate from our regular routine I am met with some crazy tantrums. Toddlers like to know what comes next. No it's not always possible but on most days they need to know the order in which things are going to happen. And your schedule shouldn't be 50% of the time it should be in place 95% of the time. Because your toddler needs to know that most of the time after I take my nap I'm going to get lunch and then do an activity. They will cry less and smile more. And knowing what comes next helps them feel like they have some kind of control over their life. With parents and older siblings constantly telling them what to and not to do it can feel like a pretty powerless world. So knowing what is going to happen throughout their day can help them bring back some feeling of control.

Teach them feelings. When my toddler is having a tantrum and I know what caused it I get down to his level and simply tell him how I think he feels and why I think he feels that way. Toddlers have these emotions of frustration, anger, happiness, and joy but they don't know these feelings or why they feel them. They don't have a name for them. It can be even more frustrating when no one can understand them. Sometimes you can't fix the problem but letting them know that the feelings they feel are normal and they have a name can really help them deal with the negative ones and create more of the positive ones. So when my toddler is upset that his tablet won't work the way he wants it to I don't get mad that he throws the tablet across the room. I get down to his level and I say "You are so frustrated. The tablet won't work the way you want it to. It's OK. I would be frustrated too." Then I hold him in my arms until the storm is over. After he calms down I let him know that even though he's frustrated he can't through his tablet. Two lessons with one feeling. Sometimes he takes longer to calm down, sometimes he doesn't want the hug. But you need to teach them what they are feeling so they can learn to communicate those feelings later on. We have all met the adult that was not taught how to deal with their emotions and they aren't always well put together in life. I don't want that for my kids. If people can effectively communicate their emotions they can get more of what they want and lead a happy confident life. 

Talk less and listen more. So once you teach your kids their feelings now you have to listen to them. You have to acknowledge how your child feels even if it doesn't change the circumstances. Listening more and talking less shows that you and your child are not in a power struggle. Parents that talk and demand all the time are showing that they are struggling with the power they have. They don't understand that you don't have to talk more to be the leader. Knowing how your child feels can either change everything or change nothing but at the end of the day they know you understand how they feel regardless of the decision you made. And to open the conversation up more you can tell your kids why you need to make the decision you are making after you hear them out. This creates a stronger bond between parent and child and emotional maturity on behalf of your child. They learn that some decisions just need to be made and that you heard them. This gives them the confidence in you that they need the next time they have a problem and want you to know how they feel.  

Give them chores. Responsibility doesn't give you confidence I don't think. I think accomplishing goals gives you confidence. Setting daily goals or chores for your kids to accomplish gives them the opportunity to feel good and productive. Have a chart with pictures of the chores or actual words, depending on their age. After they have completed a task let them put a sticker near that task. Praise their abilities a little but praise their effort a lot. Effort goes a much farther way than being gifted does. Acknowledging how hard they tried even when they don't succeed gives them the confidence to keep trying until they do succeed. That transfers to adult life as well. 

Bonus: Tell them u love them and hug and kiss them. Every chance you get kiss those cheeks. Hold those hands. Hug those little bodies. Rub those baby backs. Snuggle up. Affection shows your babies what they deserve. Later on in relationships they know that kissing and hugging and touching are normal ways to show love and affection. Plus it feels good to us to love on our babies. Love hard. Even when they push you away for a toy truck. 

I wouldnt suggest trying to all 14 of these things. That would be really hard. I suggest you focus on one or two until they are just second nature. Then continue on to the next confidence boosting tip. 

Which tip are you going to start with?

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