3 Ways To Boost Your Child's Confidence
What parent doesn’t want to raise their kids to be independent, happy, resourceful, and resilient? We all do. But there’s a widening gap between these good intentions and the outcome.
Anxiety in young people is on the rise. The big question is why.
Many people may believe we’re living in a more dangerous world. One of the reasons is the media’s continued use of catastrophic and dramatic language. So we’re holding our kids much closer to us, believing we’re protecting them and keeping them safe.
Yet the statistics tell us something very different. Our world isn’t becoming more dangerous … quite the opposite.
By holding our children closer to us, we’re developing young people who are more fragile, unable to cope with change, failure or challenges, and ultimately increasing their anxiety and lowering their self-esteem.
How can we avoid doing this when every cell in our body wants to keep them safe? How do we encourage them to overcome challenges, embrace failure, and feel good about who they are.
Here are three actions you can take starting today.
1. Let them fail safety
When they want to explore something new, whatever it is, and your initial response is “no, that won’t work … do it this way” or any other number of “do it this way instead” scenarios, take a step back. Resist the temptation to jump in and do it for them in an attempt “to teach” them how to do it. Let them teach themselves.
Let them explore. Let them fail. Let them fail safety.
Congratulate them for putting in the effort to explore. Ask them what worked and what didn’t? Ask them how they can go about it differently? Encourage them to keep persevering and discover what else might work, or even what else might not work. Remind them of the great inventions that failed several times before being successful - Dyson vacuum cleaners, Apple, and the most famous Thomas Edison.
“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thomas A Edison
2. Gently challenge
It’s common for someone with low self-esteem to avoid trying something/anything new. Their fear of failure is so immense, they’d rather avoid it completely than fail.
Instead of colluding with their fear by offering sympathy, agreement or comfort, start to gently challenge them. “You can do this if you put your mind to it. You’ve put in lots of practise, so do your best. I know you can.”
Allowing them to avoid challenges is only feeding their unhelpful belief that they “can’t cope” on their own.
And the more times they avoid challenges, the stronger their unhelpful belief becomes.
3. Perfection isn’t reality
Perfectionist thinking creates low-self esteem and low self-esteem continues to drive perfectionism.
Start by banning the word! Replace it with excellence.
As a parent, what perfectionist behaviours do you have that your child is observing?
Does the house have to be perfect before guests arrive? Does the meal have to be perfect otherwise guests will judge you poorly? Do you worry that your parenting will be judged if your child doesn’t behave perfectly in every social situation? Do you set overly-ambitious goals yourself and then publicly get annoyed when they’re not reached?
An 18 year old client, let’s call him Scott, who was suffering from depression (he’s now thriving) started to pay more attention to how much his mum was “colluding” with his unhelpful beliefs and thinking.
He hadn’t noticed it initially. He was living at home, recently finished high school, and was doing some part time work during his gap year.
Scott would be in the kitchen making himself some breakfast when his mum would walk in and take over. “I’ll do that for you sweetheart, you’ve got work today so I don’t want you feeling too stressed before you even start”.
Good intentions … unhelpful outcomes.
Fortunately, through the work we did together, Scott was able to reassure his mum that he enjoyed making himself breakfast, that it didn’t make him stressed, and his self-beliefs continued to sky rocket.
What’s one change you can make today that will start to gently challenge your child?
I’d love to hear from you.