Parents usually want their children to be self-confident – after all, self-confidence is a key component of success in life. But how do you teach this important life skill? Here are some tips.
Experts note that babies and later children who have their needs met consistently – needs for food, comfort, a listening ear, etc. – are learning the message that they are worth paying attention to; they learn they have worth. Some professionals believe this is best accomplished through the practice of attachment parenting. Others simply note that prompt and consistent meeting of needs will send a positive message to children.
Play with Your Child
Play is how your child learns about and interacts with his or her world. When you participate, you validate this playful approach. You are sharing your child’s world and helping him or her to see that Mom and/or Dad like the same things they do. Parents can get pushy about teaching their children the value of hard work or the completion of tasks. While these things are certainly important, the time in a person’s life when they are young, playful children is quite short. So embrace this time and play with your child, and work in on the task-oriented training in addition to play time. Honestly, it can be therapeutic for parents to play with their kids!
Put on a Happy Face
Okay, not everyone is happy all the time, and parents get stressed. This is understandable, and there’s no need to invent a perpetually-cheerful persona; it’s not realistic. But if your children receive the constant message that they are the source of your stress, they may begin to take on that identity. They will see themselves as an annoyance, and this may undermine their self-confidence.
Watch What You Say
In a similar vein to the paragraph above, be careful about complaining about your children in their hearing. Yes, parenting is hard, and children can try your patience. But if you need to vent to your friends about the things your child does that drive you crazy, do it at a time when your child is not present or after he or she has fallen asleep.
Don’t Withhold Yourself
If your child fails at something – and he or she will at some point – it’s important not to withdraw or withhold love and attention. This sends the message that your child’s achievements are more important that the child him/herself. Instead, make sure your child knows you love him or her no matter what failures happen.
Of course, this does not mean you as a parent need to accept constant failure or not encourage your child to do better. The important thing is for your child not to think your love is conditional. Privileges can be conditional; parental love shouldn’t be.