Being aware of your child’s confidence level should be as second nature as being aware of the state of their (generally mucky) hands! However, it often gets forgotten until you find yourself in a situation where their lack of confidence is all too apparent.
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The key to handling these situations is to take a step back, observe, and think about why they may not be comfortable. Don´t make a fuss, as creating a difficult and public stand-off will only embarrass your child, highlight their unease and make things worse in the future. Wait until later, then take steps to build their self-belief for the next time in a private, no-pressure environment.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why are they backing away from the limelight? Do they feel genuinely as if they are not good enough, or is it simply “laziness”?
- Do they have a positive role model…do you display confidence and have a positive image of yourself?
- Are they encouraged and supported at home AND at school? Could a negative experience outside the home have deterred them?
Confidence building tips:
- Listen carefully to your child when they want to tell you something. Even though the topic may be less than riveting to you, it is vital that they share information and feel they are listened to. Above all, make them feel that they are worthy of your time.
- Show them you believe they can achieve whatever they want…when they complete a task, congratulate them. We all like to be told we have done a job well and against the odds…kids are no different!
- When your child expresses self doubt, re-assure them and help them through the task so they can see it can be done. Even though they may need your help, your child will see that small challenges are possible and will be encouraged to attempt it alone the next time.
- Don’t drive your child too hard. Children have an in-built gauge to tell them when they are ready to do something , and it may not be when their peers are! Nagging them to achieve “because all your friends can do it” will make them feel they are inadequate and is more likely to push them into reverse gear.
- Let them learn by their mistakes, without fear that you will be disappointed. If they are scared of your disapproval when they don´t succeed, they won’t try in the first place! Never say “I told you so”. Congratulate the initial effort, and help them see (constructively) where they can improve next time.
Building confidence requires a step-by-step, positive parenting approach. Let your children know they are unique and very special every day, and that you love them whatever they achieve, and they will have the incentive and confidence to tackle those small but important everyday challenges.