As a blog ambassador for The Century Council, I am compensated for my involvement but all opinions are my own.
I like to think that I’m a confident mom raising confident kids through a parenting style that is firm yet loving and provides plenty of support but I admit it can be difficult to model confidence. Confident kids are raised by confident parents but there’s a fine line between personally questioning yourself versus using them as teachable moments.
So how do we raise confident kids when every given day presents constant challenges that have the ability to ruin their self confidence? Start by taking a look at what is happening in your home and then think about who their friends are. Having a supportive family and strong friendships are important but these seven elements are just as essential for parents who want to raise confident kids.
Teach your kids to love themselves
“All children must be taught to love themselves from a very young age or else they can’t make the choices they need to have a healthy body and lifestyle,” said author and K-12 school counselor, Julia V. Taylor, speaking at our recent #TalkEarly Summit. Love. It seems so simple but yet it’s a message that can be overshadowed during the course of the day. Instead of being hypercritical, make a point of commenting on something your child is good at that has nothing to do with beauty or looks.
Instill respect for their bodies
Good choices come from being comfortable in your skin. “All children must be taught to love and respect their bodies, no matter what size they are,” Taylor stated at our #TalkEarly Summit. “They must be taught to love themselves from a very young age or else they can’t make the choices they need to have a healthy body and lifestyle.” By being healthy as a family, you’re taking the focus off “size, food, and eating, and put it back on health and self-esteem.”
Model healthy habits
Even though Taylor suggested preaching about the importance of daily exercise to stay healthy, I think it’s even more important to model healthy habits. I like to involve my kids in meal planning and grocery shopping so we can work together to make choices about the kinds of things we want to eat during our family meals. I also try to model physical activity by taking our Yellow Labrador, Oliver, with me when I run. Knowing how excited Oliver gets about the possibility of going for a walk gets them excited to keep him healthy too.
Modeling healthy habits also includes being honest about alcohol in an age appropriate way. Having important conversations with your kids about drinking from an early age. Seize teachable moments to talk about alcohol consumption. Know when to be honest and when too much information can be detrimental based on their age.
Convey your family values and provide age appropriate independence and responsibilities
Confident kids sense stability that come from knowing the family values having boundaries set by parents who provide consistent rules and consequences. They take risks but within limits thanks to parents who provide age appropriate independence and responsibility to foster a sense of confidence.
Over time, I’ve gotten a little more comfortable loosening the reigns as our 7 and 10 year old prove they’re ready for more responsibility. I’ve gotten more comfortable with the idea of our kids staying home alone as I’ve tested their ability to be responsible for brief periods of time. While they’re ok staying home for a few minutes at a time when I run to school to pick up their sibling or out to the grocery store, we’re not to the point where I’d leave them home alone for an evening but I know that will come with time.
I’m also becoming more comfortable with the risks they want to take. As a family of skiiers, I should have known it was only a matter of time until our 7 year old asked to tackle the jumps in the ski park. During one of our last ski trips he had been eyeing them all day long, watching from the lift as kids and adults alike glided over the flat tops and flew off the jumps. At the end of the day he asked if he could give them a try. The smallest jump wasn’t huge but a 7 year old could catch enough air to get hurt but we knew we had to let him give it a try.
One successful jump was all it took for his confidence to soar and he’s been hooked ever since! Knowing that he knows how to handle himself when he flies off the jump makes me more confident in his abilities, even when he doesn’t stick the landing. Giving my son confidence to take risks within limits also made him want to try moguls on our last ski trip!
Be an active listener
When my kids get home, I find myself having to stop and sit in order to truly listen to what my kids say but even then, Taylor says we often “listen to speak rather than listen to hear.” I’m quick to jump in before they finish their sentences, offering advice before they’re ready or moving on to the next topic before we fully discuss the issue at hand. Making a conscious effort to listen can be difficult when our minds are swirling with an endless to-do list and thinking about the next thing that we need to do but for our kids’ sake, it’s important to slow down and truly listen.
Help kids find their niche in the friendship puzzle
Strong friendships result in self confidence that helps kids to find their place in the social puzzle of friendship. Recently we’ve been having lots of conversations with our 10 year old daughter about friendships and specifically, the qualities of a good friend. I can tell what qualities she finds annoying (the girl who always chatters and prevents her from getting her work done) and gross (the boy who picks his nose and wipes it on the class bean bag) and how she feels when other students break the rules and get away with it. Our conversations show me that she’s thoughtful, empathetic, and becoming more confident in herself to know what qualities she loves in her closest friends. I can only hope that the qualities that my fourth grader values in her current friends are ones that stick as she gets older.
Accept their feelings
Taylor believes it’s important to develop a culture of understanding with a family. Instead of negating your child’s beliefs by saying “it’s not true,” she encourages.