It’s important that children feel comfortable in their own skin and confident in their abilities. When parents help kids build their sense of self-esteem, it is important to be careful, especially since an overconfident kid can handle things like failure and rejection poorly. There needs to be a balance, and kids need to understand that it is okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them. There are a few things that parents can do to help their young one feel and be more confident in a healthy way.
Showering your child in accolades can be dangerous, especially if you overexaggerate or give out compliments on a constant basis. Complimenting your child can be validating, but when done too much or without any real feeling behind it, kids can grow up to think they can do no wrong. This can be especially troublesome when it comes to things like grades, academic accomplishments, sports, and even social interactions with their peers. Instead of saying things like “That’s the best drawing I’ve ever seen!” or something along those lines, you can point out specific strengths such as their coloring skills. It is also important to remember that not everything deserves praise, especially things that kids are supposed to do. If your child does their chores and homework on time or finishes their vegetables at dinner, a simple “Thank you” will suffice, otherwise they may start filtering out your compliments or develop an overinflated ego for doing things everyone should be expected to do.
Don’t Rescue Them
When kids make mistakes or face obstacles, there are some instances where a parent should help and when they should take the back seat. Your child should learn to handle certain situations on their own and to develop problem-solving skills. If they are used to mommy or daddy always coming to the rescue, they may not develop the necessary skills they need to deal with problems and may end up relying on you for everything, even as they get older. It is important to instill a sense of accountability and ability, both characteristics which can lead to a stronger sense of self while boosting confidence at the same time.
Let Them Make the Decisions
Leaving certain decisions up to your child also helps reduce their dependency on what mommy and daddy say, allowing them to develop opinions, thoughts, and a unique way of approaching certain situations. There is a lot more to be learned when kids are allowed to make decisions for themselves, granted they are age-appropriate, and can help them develop a firm sense of identity as they continue to get older. Simple decisions that kids can make can include what they wear that day and what they have for a snack. Kids don’t have to come up with a solution from scratch, either. Present them with several options to choose from so you still have some control over what they choose (i.e. not leaving the door open for them to decide they want dessert for dinner).