Teach Your Kid How To Kick Butt: Encouraging Kid Confidence
I was not a confident kid. I was painfully shy and generally fearful of the world. I spent most of my formative years hiding behind my mama’s skirt peeking out timidly at the world. Somehow after struggling through the awkward teen years and the years of self-discovery in college, I emerged as a strong, confident woman. But believe me, the years between birth and college graduation were excruciating.
When my daughter was born, it didn’t take long to realize that her personality was the exact opposite of mine as a child. My little girl is demanding, self-assured and borderline arrogant. She’s got kid confidence. Although I’m always chastising her to “take it down a notch,” I’ve secretly always been happy to know that she has no problems holding her own in a cruel world.
But I don’t take her natural confidence for granted. I once read a study that said that most girls’ self-esteem of peaks at age nine, and takes a dramatic nosedive as they approach the pre-teen and teen years. How shocking for your confidence to be shaken before life really begins!
I have decided that I don’t want to spend the teen years helping my daughter deal with eating disorders, depression, mean girl drama and all the other horrible things that can come with low self-esteem. I’ve decided that my best defense is to actively build her confidence while it is already strong. To me keeping her self-confidence built up is like maintaining a car. It’s easier to keep the oil changed and get the car serviced now, than having to deal with massive repairs later.
Here are a few small things that I do with my daughter to keep her confidence high:
• I constantly tell her that I love her. I think a big part of confidence in children is having the assurance that you are lovable and that someone loves your unconditionally.
• I make her say affirmations. Yes, my daughter says daily affirmations! Some may believe that self-talk is nonsense, but I’ve seen the big smile that my daughter gets when she looks in the mirror and tells herself that she is beautiful, smart and capable. I want her to learn a hard lesson very early: If you love yourself, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
• I cheer her on. My daughter will tell you that she’s awesome at math and that she’s a great helper around the house. When she says these things, she’s just repeating what she’s heard me say to her. I know that even at this young age the majority of the people in her life criticize what she does, what she wears, how she looks and how she behaves. But I believe that her time with her parents should be a sanctuary – a safe place where she can be praised and encouraged.
• I encourage her to take risks. If she wants to try a new sport, I’m signing her up. When she encounters new foods, I challenge her to take two big bites. Every summer, I enroll her in exciting new camps. These are things that I never would have done as a kid. But I know that I would have found my way through life much easier if I’d been willing to take a risk or two.
We can never keep our children from the turbulent twists and turns of life. But we can equip them to stand confidently when those curve balls come. Building self-esteem in our kids today is an investment in their future that’s just as important as preparing them for college.
Are your raising a confident child?
Yolanda Darville is a wife, mom and freelance writer focusing on issues that make a difference. To read more of her writings connect with her on Twitter at @YolandaDarville.