Here are five excellent ways to help children gain outer confidence. (For more about children and self-esteem, see our activities for kids page.)
5 Ways to Help Your Kids Gain Outer Confidence
1. Set boundaries and have rules
One of the most important things children need from you is love but it is also structure.
Some of the parents I work with don’t want to repeat the strict upbringing that they experienced so they go the other way and have no rules or boundaries at all – then they wonder why their children don’t listen to them or respect them.
Children thrive on routine and rules. Like everything in life, it’s a balance and structure makes children feel that security of love around them.
If your child feels insecure, they’ll be reluctant to try new challenges.
Just be firm, fair and clear in what your rules are so the whole family know what they are and just stick to them consistently – remembering to adapt them occasionally when your kids have outgrown some of them.
2. Be consistent
It doesn’t matter whether you use stickers, the naughty step, time-out in their bedroom, loss of TV time or whatever is your choice of discipline but make sure you enforce your rules and expectations with total consistency.
There are many reasons why parents become inconsistent but one of the main ones is stress and tiredness. It’s also true if you are going through a major change like going back to work, going through a divorce, moving house or bonding a new stepfamily together.
But it’s easier to be consistent if you have routines because consistency in routines breeds consistency in your parenting. When life is unpredictable it’s easy to get distracted.
3. Encourage independence
From the day you play” peek-a-boo” with your baby, you are preparing them for separation from you. From their first day at school, their first sleepover, their first overnight school trip, to the day they leave home.
Parents who encourage independence in their children help them to develop a sense of self-direction.
Give your child a limited choice between two things from an early age as this builds up their confidence and really praise their decisions as this is very important in building up their confidence in their own decision making choices.
Let your child make their own mistakes. We often step in too soon to avoid disappointment but a child often gains so much from the experience.
To develop self-esteem, children need psychological space. If you are too emotionally wrapped up in your child’s life, they feel smothered and overprotected and they won’t flourish.
4. Be firm and fair in your discipline
It’s really important at each stage of your child’s development to establish the rules that you expect your child to obey and to expect that they will at some point challenge you and test your limits. It’s just what kids do.
But, don’t let your toddler blackmail you into buying that ice cream just before lunch by their screaming tantrum or let your teenager get away with not emptying the dishwasher because you can’t bear their sulky behavior.
It sends the message that your rules don’t matter or aren’t that important and you want your child to see your authority as coming from your wisdom and good judgment and by being firm and fair you are giving your kids security and love.
5. Respect your child
Your relationship with your child is the foundation of their relationships with others. If you treat your child with compassion, kindness and respect, they will grow up to be concerned about others, caring, considerate and respectful towards people too.
It might be helpful to remember that even when your child is contrary, rebellious or argumentative they are not probably behaving this way out of spite and disrespect, but going through a particular stage of development, like adolescence.
It sounds obvious, but speak politely to your child and respect their opinion, pay real attention when they are speaking to you and treat them kindly.
It distresses me to hear parents telling their children to “shut up” or say things that humiliate or embarrass them in front of other people. These actions do nothing to enhance a child’s self-esteem.
Part of respecting a child is also allowing them to act their age and to allow them to enjoy being at their stage of development. Let them laugh, play, be silly, be boisterous, be messy and get dirty, see the world through their wonderful eyes.
“Using this reading program, my son’s reading skills have been raised to a level well beyond his grade. I cannot credit the Reading Kingdom enough for raising my son’s self-esteem and guiding him on a path to achieving his full potential.” — V.W. Shiah, M.D. and parent