12 things parents can do to boost their child's confidence
If you want to raise a resilient child, or, you have a child who struggles with self-esteem and self-confidence issues, here are 12 easy ways to help them feel confident about themselves every single day.
Helping your child navigate the stresses and strains of daily life is more important than ever. Nearly 50 million Indian children suffer from mental disorders, according to a 2009 study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, showing a worrying rise in young people’s mental health problems. Sadly, psychologists confirm this. "The pressures young people face range from school stress and bullying to concerns around body image. While we may not be able to remove all these challenges, we can pass on skills to help young people cope with stress and adversity. It’s what’s known as resilience. The ability to overcome difficult experiences and be shaped positively by them,” says Dr Shilpa Aggarwal, a Mumbai-based clinical psychologist.
Every parent wants their child to have as much confidence in themselves as possible. A high level of self-esteem can take your child far in life, inspiring them to shoot for the stars and to believe they can achieve anything they set their minds to. Confident children are more likely to turn into independent, happy, successful, mentally tough adults, and what parent doesn't want that for their little ones? However, self-esteem doesn't always come naturally — it's an acquired trait, not a genetic one, says Aggarwal. If you want to raise a resilient child or you think your child needs some help building a more positive self-image, here are 12 ways you can help boost their confidence, starting today.
1. Focus on strengths, while helping with weaknesses.
"Empower your child by focusing on their best attributes and talents. Faults and disappointments are inevitable, but help your child look at the bright side of struggles," says Dr Aggarwal. (For example, "You might have lost your table tennis game this week, but you made a really great play towards the end.'') Let your kid know that no one is perfect, but we all have strengths and positive things to offer the world. "By listing your child's best attributes, special skills, and accomplishments, you're teaching them to focus on the positive and celebrate their successes," adds Dr Aggarwal.
2. Encourage your child to help others.
Knowing that they're able to help others and make a difference in someone's life is a great self-esteem booster for children. "Whether it's helping a friend finish a class assignment or it's picking up litter at school, encouraging your children to give their time and energy to others teaches them that they have much to offer the world. Doing good for others is sure to make them feel good about themselves as well," says Dr Upasana Ghosh, a certified relationship expert from Kolkata.
3. Don't rescue them.
"Letting your children problem-solve for themselves teaches them that they are capable. So be patient and let your teenager figure out her own math homework, or your preschooler dress himself, even if it takes twice as long," says Dr Ghosh. The more new challenges your kids meet, the more confident they'll feel.
4. Encourage their talents.
Most children develop special interests. Maybe they love basketball or swimming or they excel at art. "Find out what talents your child has and encourage them to develop them, both through classes and teams and individually. Building on what your child already does well is a great way to develop confidence," says Dr Ghosh.
5. Give them responsibilities.
Completing tasks successfully is a great confidence builder, says Dr Ghosh. Give your children responsibility for walking the dog, setting the table, or cleaning their rooms to help them feel more competent and build their problem-solving skills. "Always praise them for a job well done," says Dr Ghosh.
6. Praise their efforts.
It's important to acknowledge your children's achievements and efforts, but don't go overboard, says Dr Aggarwal. "Kids are excellent at recognising false praise, so instead of telling them that their drawing of the family is destined for an art gallery, tell them that you really liked how they drew your face," says Dr Aggarwal.
7. Work on developing their independence.
"Confidence comes from completing tasks and achieving goals independently, so support your child's independence by encouraging them to try new things, meet new people, and take thoughtful risks," says Dr Aggarwal.
8. Teach them to think positively.
Thinking optimistically and having self-confidence often go hand in hand. When kids believe that things will work out the way they want them to and in their own power to affect their future, they're displaying self-confidence, says Dr Aggarwal.
9. Set realistic goals.
Help your children develop achievable goals for themselves. "Maybe they want to learn to play an instrument, improve at a sport, or read a certain number of books. Make sure the goals are realistic, as only reaching them will help build confidence," says Dr Aggarwal.
10. Be present.
Being there for your child can do wonders for their self-esteem and self-confidence. "When your child is telling you about their day, listen and respond with heartfelt thoughts, understanding, compassion, and words of wisdom. Take time out of your day to spend quality time with your child. Put the phone away. No texting. No Facebook. Nothing but you and your child. Enjoy them and let them enjoy you. Giving them your undivided attention, even if all you're doing is cuddling on the couch and playing with their hair, can warm your child's heart and soul like nothing else," says Dr Aggarwal.
11. Offer unconditional love.
Be vocal about your unconditional love for your children. "When they know that they are loved and accepted, just as they are, no matter what, they have the foundation they need to grow into a confident child and adult," says Dr Aggarwal.
12. Let them make their own decisions.
Give your children age-appropriate choices whenever possible, even if it's letting them decide whether to eat fruits or toast for breakfast. Dr Ghosh says, "Letting your child make their own decisions empowers them and prepares them to make more complicated choices as they grow older."