Raising a child, especially if it’s your first, can be an incredibly challenging task. You know that the stakes are high, and at the same time that the number of things that you could do wrong is overwhelming. While there is no need to panic, since a you should do just fine as long as you love your children and don’t hesitate to show it, it is perfectly normal to want the best for your child.
Some parents tend to do everything in their power to boost their child’s confidence, and up to a point this is the right way to go. But, even though confidence is extremely important for any person that hopes to lead a successful and happy life, giving your child a false sense of confidence is a terrible disservice.
Attempting to make every child feel special in every way imaginable has led to trophies being given out just for participation, and other, similar ego boosts with no real substance or value. If you really want your child to develop a healthy amount of confidence, you will have to approach the matter with more planning and thought, always being careful not to give your kid a false sense of self worth.
Give your Child Some Freedom
Depending on the age of your child and his or her competence in dealing with the world, you should make sure to give them enough independence and time to get to know the world on their own.
This means allowing them to play freely with their friends, even if this sometimes means that they could get into some minor trouble. It is really easy to became paranoid if you are a parent, with the world full of dangers, however, constantly hovering over your child, restricting or monitoring his or her every action sends the message that you don’t trust your child’s judgement or ability to deal with problems, and can seem overbearing, which then leads to resistance on the child’s part.
Naturally, this is not to say that you should expose your child to risks and dangers, but a scraped knee here and here is to be tolerated for the greater good.
Nurture Your Child’s Interests
While you may find some activities that your child enjoys to be either pointless or just plain silly, don’t just go and forbid your child to partake in them.
Unless there is something harmful in the activity that your child has chosen, do your best to incentives them to get better at it. While your kids may not get much use of the skill in the future, the confidence that will stem from excelling in something can make the difference between a well adjusted human being and a nervous wreck.
Be Realistic with Your Compliments
While your child can always use some praise and motivation, make sure that you are not creating an unfounded sense of confidence. Praise your children when they really deserve it, and when they do something wrong, as difficult as it may be, the best course of action is to point out the mistake, without making them feel bad about it. Think about it, if your child gets equal praise for a relatively simple task and for one that is exceedingly difficult, you are running the risk of completely disturbing both their system of values and their perception of their abilities. Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t put their drawings on the fridge every once in a while, just perhaps restrain from making them feel like they’ve outdone Van Gogh.
Engage Them in Problem Solving
One of the best ways to build up your child’s confidence is to place them in situations where they actually get to do something useful and better themselves at the same time.
There are a number of things you can do to achieve this, with one handy example being doing home repairs with you. Getting your child to participate in fixing a plumbing problem or making a bird house gives you a shared activity, during which you can teach your child a valuable skill and see how he or she handles challenges. You get the chance to evaluate your kid’s input and give out praise when the input is useful or simply interesting enough.
By guiding your child through overcoming a problem that he or she could previously never solve, you are showing them that nothing is unsolvable when you have proper instruction and a right attitude.
Allow Them to Solve Their Own Problems
Even though you should always be there for your child, you should also know when to back away and let him or her deal with a problem on their own. Naturally, you shouldn’t just turn a deaf ear to your kid’s problems and make them feel like they’re on their own, but whenever possible you should encourage them to find a solution themselves.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Martin Pettitt