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How to Pour Confidence into Your Children
As a therapist, I meet with many children who struggle with confidence issues. The result can lead to excessive worries, tearfulness, anger outbursts, and even lying. Unfortunately, those behaviors can then worsen the issue and lead the child to have even less confidence. (please note that I’m not saying that confidence issues are the only reason a child could be experiencing those symptoms)
Confidence is a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something. Very few children are blessed with an innate sense of confidence. More often, a child receives messages from the world around him as to whether he is good enough and capable enough at something or even as a person. This process continues and aides in the growth of confidence or lack thereof.
These messages come from everywhere around us. Parents, siblings, extended family, peers, teachers, coaches, and even strangers and social media.
Children who have confidence in who they are as a person are better equipped to stand firm in their beliefs and say ‘No’ to things that can hurt them.
As parents, it it our role to build up our children’s confidence so that the negative messages of the world don’t bring them down.
Love your children unconditionally!
Ever since our children were very little we would ask them, “Why do I love you?” And then we taught them the answer, “Because I’m your son/daughter.” We wanted them to know that no other reason mattered!
Don’t add qualifiers to your love.
For example, “I love you Johnny, you’re such a good boy.” You now are connecting Johnny’s behavior to your love. The underlying message then is that you wouldn’t love him if he was a “bad boy”. This message reinforces beliefs that love is contingent upon behavior and acts.
Here’s another example, “I love you Sarah but you have to listen to mommy.” The ‘but’ actually negates the first part of the sentence.
Help your children understand God’s love for them, too. Show them bible verses that talk about God’s unconditional love.
Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV) The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
What a confidence builder, right?! To know that our Lord delights and rejoices in us with singing! That certainly helps me feel good about myself.
The second question we taught our children is, “Why am I proud of you?” And then we let them answer all the reasons they think we are proud and we add on more, too.
The important component of our praise is that we name what we are proud of or what we want to see them continue. If we just say, “Good job” we aren’t letting them know exactly what they did that was good. Therefore they may not know what we want them to do again.
Here are examples to start you off.
- I’m proud of you because…
- You did a good job with…
- Thank you for…
- That was kind of you to…
Teach to your children’s talents to build confidence. We all have different abilities and strengths. That is the beauty of how God created us!
The book, The Eight Great Smart by Kathy Koch teaches the eight different ways that people are intelligent: body, logic, music, nature, people, picture, self, and word. The book is helpful in identifying the different “smarts” that your child has through a quiz that both you and your child complete. It then breaks down each smart into chapters to discuss how best your child learns as well as how to develop that area.
Also, teach your children what you want them to be doing. For example, “Susie, come sit down.” Instead of, “Susie, stop running around.” The first lets your child know what you want them to be doing while the second only points out the negative behavior.
That may not seem like a huge distinction but think of all of the re-directions you give your toddler and small child on a daily basis! That’s a lot of focus on their negative behaviors. Truthfully, children want to please their parents but they need to know what they’re suppose to be doing and they need reinforcement and praise for when they do.
Let your children know it’s okay to fail! The important thing is that they try and try hard. My husband and I don’t allow our children to say, “I can’t”. We rephrase it to “you don’t know how yet”.
Okay, so now bear with me. My husband is a huge Nebraska Corn Huskers fan. Whether you follow college football or not or have another favorite team, the Huskers have an amazing before game prayer.
Dear Lord, the battles we go through life, We ask for a chance that’s fair, A chance to equal our stride, A chance to do or dare, If we should win, let it be by the code, Faith and Honor held high, If we should lose, we’ll stand by the road, And cheer as the winners go by. Day by Day, we get better and better. The team that can’t be beat, WON’T BE BEAT!
You can’t help but be pumped up after that one.
When our children are trying something new or challenging, my husband will say, “Day by Day…” and the kids answer, “we get better and better.” This may sound cheesy but it reinforces for our children that hard work and perseverance is what helps them succeed and that builds confidence.
Every night before bed we also tell our kids, “Dream Big!” because nothing is impossible with God.
This one may be the hardest for some parents. You also need to model confidence! Your children need to see you proud of yourself and acknowledging your God-given talents.
I think we all know, “Do as I say, not as I do.” doesn’t work in parenting.
If our children hear us putting ourselves down or comparing ourselves to others, they will learn to internalize that behavior, too.
We need to pray for our children!
I ask that you watch over our children. Help them to experience your love and know that you are with them through all things. Show them the talents you created in them and give them the courage to use those gifts. Guide them on your path and show them the way so that they can glorify You.
And I ask you Lord to help as their parent. Help me to teach my children of your love. And to not hinder them from you. Help me to build up their talents and reinforce that they are made for greatness!
I thank you Heavenly Father, for the gift of our children. I know that they are yours and I am humbly blessed with the opportunity to love and parent them.
In your heavenly name, Jesus Christ, Amen
I pray that this post helps you to meet your children where they are and to pour confidence and love into their hearts!
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