Offer Praise: Praise is one of the first behaviors that comes to mind in thinking about ways to foster a child’s confidence. This has come under scrutiny in recent years because, in many cases, praise, or more accurately, overpraising has come into play. Evidence indicates that this often does more harm than good. Sometimes it leads children to feel that low level performance is fine. Other times, children know that it is not valid and they take the praise as a sign that you really think of them as weak and in need of protection. In other words, the praise does the opposite of what was intended. What seems clear is that praise can be wonderful but it should be offered only when it is appropriate to the behavior.
Provide Feedback: Failure is a steady component in all learning and it is vital to progress. When failure happens, it is important to not be critical or condemning. Instead, whenever you can, provide your child with the feedback he or she needs to improve the behavior. Children are far more confident when they know that they can count on a caring person to help them succeed when challenged.
Foster Mastery: When children feel that they cannot effectively carry out important skills such as reading or math, they can be overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy. Conversely, when they are competent in these valued areas, their confidence soars. So, if your child is experiencing difficulty in an important area, try to find the best resources to help him or her move ahead. Sometimes, you can be the agent of change. But if the interaction is stressful, have others carry out the work.
Encourage Children to Pursue their Interests: Few experiences are as empowering as being able to fulfill one’s passion. It doesn’t matter what the area is: sports, arts, music, computer programming, writing, etc. Try and provide your child with the opportunities to pursue these interests.
Set Time Aside to Enjoy Each Other: In today’s fast paced, busy world, we often fail to plan time to relax and simply enjoy each other’s company. It is great to have a regular date with your child, preferably on a weekly basis, where you just relax and talk to each other. Your attention and your willingness to listen to what your child has to say sends a message of how much you value her or him. That does wonders not only for confidence, but for creating a relationship that brings joy to you both.
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