We could all agree that the world would be a much better place if more children were raised to be surefooted. Surefooted in the sense that they are confident enough to make an informed decision and mature enough to admit a mistake. It’s no coincidence that this has not happened either– after all, there is a fine line between re-assurance and over-assurance which can develop polar opposite traits in your children.
Those traits? Self-confidence (one that is self-assured) and insecurity (one that is seeking validation from others).
Confidence and self-esteem are some of the most important traits your child should develop in order to become a fully-functioning adult. However, it’s probably also the most difficult one. Self-assured children are more likely to better deal with pressure, responsibility, challenges, and mistakes that come with learning stuff. But how could you, as a parent, guide your children for them to become humble but competent adults?
1. Start them young
While every child is different, it’s important that all the virtues that you would want to teach them should be taught while they’re young. Children are natural information sponges. They would be able to absorb everything they observe without knowing the difference between right and wrong. That’s where you come in! Start them young by teaching them virtues such as kindness, courage, and compassion. Use real-life experiences or things that they have recently observed to teach them that this is what life is like and why they should face it confidently.
2. Your encouragement and attention mean A LOT
Aside from basic necessities, your children will be able to grow up and form their own way of thinking with or without your help. But would you really want it to turn out that way? Children, at a very young age, crave encouragement and approval from the closest authoritative figure in their lives– their parents. Your attention and encouragement would be your child’s fuel to do good and exert as much effort as they can in order to make you proud.
3. Praise where praise is due
We talked about being self-assured and being insecure earlier. The fine line lies in one word: praise. Praise can be a very useful yet also destructive tool if not used properly. Overpraising your child may result in them feeling a false sense of confidence and, when they grow older and realize that they weren’t really that good about the thing that you’re praising them about, it would lead to insecurities that could be difficult to fix.
My dad always used to say, “As long as you know in your heart that you’ve tried your best, then that should be the only thing that matters.” This means that the amount of effort, not the end result, should be praised. This develops a sense of accomplishment in your child even if they fell short on what they were supposed to achieve.
4. Allow healthy competition (less trash talk, more pushing each other to be better)
Healthy competition should always be welcome in the family. Unhealthy competition brings about trash talk, overcompetitiveness, and unneeded comparison among your children. What can you do to encourage healthy competition? Teach your children to be competitive while also pulling their competitors up! Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone felt like they gave their best regardless of who won?
5. Let them make decisions
Confidence and independence go hand-in-hand. By allowing your child to make their own decisions, you are also teaching them to be independent. And by allowing them to be independent, they will learn about responsibly making decisions based on the principle that all of their choices have consequences.
6. Tell them that perfection is a myth
Parents, especially parents that were born in the digital age, have the tendency to promote perfection based on what they see on social networking sites. The rise of social media and other types of online networking platforms have paved the way for people to curate a seemingly perfect version of their lives online. As a child, social media looks like the ideal way to live. It is now your job as a parent to set your child’s expectations and tell them that there’s no such thing as perfect. The constant need to achieve perfection is a never-ending battle as there will always be something better. Instead, tell your kids that being unique is amazing and that diversity makes the world a better place to live. In this way, they would be more confident about the things that set them apart from other people and not be insecure because they don’t fit a particular way.
7. Teach them that nothing will be handed to them, they have to earn it
Anything worth having is worth fighting for. The younger your children realize that nothing worth having comes easy, the easier they can deal with life’s challenges. As parents, we understand the struggle to make your children’s lives easier and prevent them from failing or getting discouraged. However, as parents, you should also understand that your children will learn nothing if everything is handed to them on a silver platter. The solution? Teach them the value of working hard in order to achieve their goals. Handing them everything they need without them working for it, will give them a false sense of security that will harm them later on. It would always be better to instill perseverance rather than a sense of entitlement.
8. Focus on what they’re good at
We think this already goes without saying. You should encourage your children in anything that they express a strong interest in. Whether it be sports, arts, tech, or music– as long as they have fun with it and they are learning from it, it should be encouraged. Once a child finds something they’re good at, their confidence steadily builds as they now know that they have something they excel at.