It can be hard to watch someone you love struggle.Â Whether itâs with a complicated math problem, or a cartwheel, or a difficult friendship, our kids will run into a challenge that tests their mettle.Â And at the same time, most parents would put âself-confidentâ on their list of qualities they hope their children will have.Â Since we canât dictate how our children feel about or respond to a challenge, what can we do to help them feel confident in the face of adversity?
The parenting author Jane Nelsen defines self-esteem as âthe belief that I count, Iâm capable, and I can control what happens to me, or how I respond.âÂ This is a fantastic cornerstone to our efforts to boost the self-confidence of our children, and helps us break down this notion of âself-confidenceâ into practical and manageable ideas.
All of us need to feel that we matter.Â That desire for belonging never goes away; we need it as adults, too.Â One of the most important ways to help a child feel that he counts is to really listen when he talks.Â This means everything to kids â no one likes to feel as though they arenât being taken seriously or that their problems arenât significant enough to warrant time and attention, and itâs easy for us as parents to forget that when weâre preoccupied or when our children are experiencing what we might consider to be minor dramas or quick fixes.Â Ask questions more than giving answers or your own observations or solutions.Â Being included in decision-making through family meetings is an important way for kids to feel that their voices and opinions matter, and that they are an important, contributing member of your family.
We gain confidence not by being told that weâre great, but by experiencing the overcoming of obstacles.Â Being told âYouâre the best!â doesnât mean much compared to that feeling of actually conquering a challenge.Â Kids need opportunities to learn new skills, fall down and get back up again, and then look back and see how far theyâve come.Â As tempting as it might be, donât jump in and get involved right away.Â Have faith in them that they can find their own solutions (perhaps with you as a coach) when possible.Â If you step in too quickly, your child may get the message that you donât believe in him, that you donât think heâs able to handle the situation on his own.Â âI believe in youâ and âYou can do itâ are among the most powerful words you can say to a child.
I Can Control What Happens To Me Or How I Respond
There are times in life when we can choose the outcome of a situation.Â For example,Â if we choose to spend the night before a big test or exam out watching a movie, we may very well be choosing not to do well on that test.Â Sometimes our actions have a direct relationship to the results we get, and in those times, we need to empower our children to recognize the control they do have.Â But sometimes we canât control what happens to us, thatâs very true.Â As humans, a feeling of control over ourselves and our surroundings is extremely important to us.Â Which is why itâs critical in those moments to remind our kids to recognize that there is something they can always control – regardless of what is happening â which is how they respond to challenges.Â They can choose to be angry, resentful, or bitter.Â They can choose to be defeated, despondent, or hopeless.Â The can choose to be determined, focused, or accepting.Â Armed with the understanding that even if they canât control what happens to them, they can always control how they respond, our kids can learn to look for the elements of a situation that are in their control and take action.Â At the end of the day, there are millions of ways to have a positive impact on your childrenâs self-confidence.Â Spending one-on-one time with them, teaching them a skill you have, having a hobby that you share together, showing interest in their school lives and friendships, asking them what they think they should do next, reminding them of their successes, giving unconditional loveâŠthe list goes on and on.Â Let I Count, Iâm Capable and I Can Control What Happens To Me Or How I Respond be the structure of how you think about your childâs self-confidence, and fill in the rest with all of those little moments that happen every day.
By: Andrea Ramsay Speers