Confidence in the Early Years
My young son is confident because I have allowed him to be, and have strived to fill him with confidence whenever he has doubted himself.
Friends comment on how confident he is in all he does. I know this is because I won’t have it any other way.
Whenever I see my son doubting himself, I help him to turn the situation around immediately. Over time, he has come to see that confidence is a choice.
He also models his behaviour on those around him, particularly mine.
I am always mindful of my actions and words around him as I know how influential they can be on his development. Even if I am not feeling so good about myself, I try to turn this around. After all, it’s my job as a parent to encourage and support him, particularly when he has to tackle difficult tasks.
As parents, we need to strike a balance, and allow them to walk their own path, giving useful feedback and suggestions as they do so, without doing all the work for them. It’s hard at times not to be over-protective of our children, but they need to mess things up in order to learn how to do a better job next time.
Treat mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow. Engage them in thinking that we ‘fail forwards’ and that there is no such thing as failure; we either win or we learn.
Exposing children to new experiences teaches them that no matter how scary and different something may at first appear, they can conquer it.
Until the teen years, you are your child’s hero, so use that power to teach them what you know about how to think, act, and speak. Set a good example, and be a role model. Watching you succeed will help your child be more confident that they can do the same.
I often take my son to dance rehearsals with me when he is off school. He sees me take a lead role. He sees my confidence shining. He particularly enjoys and appreciates when I work with performers with disabilities as they develop differently. He joins in and stands at the front with me to help them. He likes to show them his dance skills also. This is so beautiful to witness.
I often make him part of my journey. Recently he came to watch as I completely stepped out of my comfort zone as I stood in front of investors to pitch for money. He knows this is not an everyday encounter for me, and he gets to see me pump my confidence into something that is quite scary for me.
He also recently witnessed me ‘fail’ an exam. He said, “What will you do now, Mum? Are you upset?” I let him know that I simply wasn’t ready for the exam so I will try again and pass, and I will think very carefully in the future about putting so much pressure on myself like I did in this situation. He applauds me for my resilience and my ‘get up and try again’ attitude. I hope he will absorb this into his own life in the future.
One of my practices is to write myself affirmations on sticky notes and stick them around the house. When I catch sight of one of my notes, I say it out loud. Without any prompting from me, my son sticks his own notes on his bedroom wall. And just as I do, he reads them out loud, over and over.
I always applaud his successes, I give constructive criticism, I use positive affirmations with him daily, I share decision making with him, I give him choices and of course I act confidently in front of him.
Children with high levels of self-confidence perform better at school and, later in life, have higher levels of job satisfaction. Self-esteem is also strongly linked to happiness, with higher levels of self-esteem predicting higher levels of happiness. High self-confidence has even been found to increase chances of survival after a serious surgical procedure (Mann et al., 2004)!
There’s no doubt about it. Confidence is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child.
Snippet taken from Pure Confidence by Amy Elizabeth (available in shop or on Amazon)!
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