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Confidence: who doesn’t want that in themselves and in their children? Are you confident in the things you do? Why or why not? There are a million questions to be asked but when it comes to confidence, it takes time and effort to build for our children starting at a young age. We can’t simple say “be confident” and have it happen. Our children are going to wonder what we’re talking about. Really, when we talk about confidence, we want them to be secure with the person that they are and feel that they can achieve the tasks and goals that they set out to gain.
But is it something that just happens overnight? Certainly not. It takes a bit of building, sort of like building a tower with blocks. The more blocks around the foundation, the stronger and better secure the tower will be when the outside forces shake their world. What can we do to build up children’s confidence?
1. Give choices. Let them make a choice, starting with the small things. For example, when you dress them, pick two shirts and say, “Do you want to wear the red shirt or the striped shirt?” Yesterday, my friend’s teenage daughter was walking out the door and she said, “Make good choices,” as a reminder that you always have a choice and to be confident in those choices.
2. Talk about them in front of them. As you’re talking with friends and family when the kids are around, tell good things that they have done. “Amy did an amazing job today helping her sister clean her room.”
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3. Lots of chances: Have them repetitively do the same task over and over again so that they master it. It takes lots of practice to get things right. When they start out, don’t expect perfection.
4. Name their actions. This is really hard! Try “Riley is climbing up the stairs,” or “You’re coloring with the blue crayon.” It’s not praise in the sense of “good job” but by naming their actions, they hear that you are paying attention to them and that makes them feel important.
5. Listen. Just being present and listening to what they have to say makes them feel secure that they are an important person. My son recently got a dog from the animal shelter. The first night he decided to sleep on the couch with him. I laid on the couch with them. After a while he said, “Mom, you can go. I got this.”
The truth is that the day will come when our children’s confidence will be tested. I think it happens more than we are aware. The other day, one of my daughters was talking to me about a friend offering her cigarettes. She told them that it wasn’t for her and her reasons. She said they never asked her again. I have to think that this is a small test of her confidence. When it came down to peer pressure or doing what was right for her, she knew what she wanted!
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