Maegen Storm, C.N.P.
Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine (Children), Primary Care
It's only natural that as parents you want to instill confidence in your kids. Confident children believe in themselves and can face new challenges without fear — essential factors for a happy and fulfilling life.
Children's confidence depends on hearing certain messages, and parents are in the best position to send them. Confident children know they are worthy of being loved and belonging with their friends and family. Parents communicate this self-worth to their children through verbal and nonverbal messages every day.
Parents interested in increasing their children's self-worth can use these five messages as a starting point:
1. I delight in being your parent.
Spend one-on-one time with your children doing what they love to do ― and let them lead ― for no other reason but to enjoy being with them. Give your children lots of physical affection in a sincere, natural and age-appropriate way.
2. Your self-worth does not depend on what you do, but on who you are.
Praise your children for character traits rather than talents or achievements. Point out what is genuinely good and likeable about who they are. When they misbehave, focus on the specific problem behavior instead of communicating that they are bad. Praise character traits and discipline behavior.
3. You deserve to be treated well, and when you are not, you are strong.
When children are hurt and it's not their fault, they need three things: emotional validation, the right interpretation of what happened and to know they can do something about it. When children are hurt, do not feel sorry for them. Rather, work with them on practical ways they can stand up for themselves, such as using their words to stand up to a bully. If children know they deserve to be treated with respect and kindness, their self-worth will not be affected when someone is mean to them.
4. Your feelings are worth being known.
Children who can be their true selves will grow in self-confidence. Always encourage your children to show how they are really feeling. When children are upset, they can work through it if their feelings are validated. So be a listener rather than a teacher. Try to see things from their perspective and then let them know that you see how they are feeling.
5. You can use your strength to meet challenges.
Let kids take age-appropriate risks to do what they're excited about, even if they might get hurt. If you don't, what they might hear is that you don't think they are strong enough to do it. Teach your children that they can make their own decisions. Giving them simple choices when they are young teaches them to be confident decision-makers.
Get more tips on parenting on the Hometown Health blog.