Confidence. It’s a big word with a host of implications. Whether you consider yourself a confident adult or not, one thing is for certain: we all want to raise confident kids. How can parents – many of whom are still trying to get control of our own self-doubt – raise a confident kid?
First, let’s talk about what confidence is and what it isn’t.
The dictionary defines confidence as “belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities.” It’s often associated with words like assurance, certainty, determination, and self-reliance. When we talk about confidence and our kids, we’re actually talking about something that comes from inside: our children’s belief that they can do what they set out to accomplish. Perhaps even more than that, it’s a deep understanding that we are worthy of being loved, respected, and heard, simply because we have value as human beings.
Here’s what confidence is not: doubt, hesitation, fear, distrust, and insecurity.
As women, too many of us have struggled with the “opposites of confidence.” We spent years buying into the lie that we’re not enough, or that we need to change before we are worthy of love and belonging, or that we aren’t capable of reaching our wildest and most audacious dreams.
I would do just about anything to steer my children away from self-doubt, fear, and insecurity. I’m guessing you would, too. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of 10 ways you can raise a confident kid, according to the experts (because I may be many things, but a child psychologist isn’t one of ‘em!)
10 Tips to Raising a Confident Kid
1. Model Confidence
We can lecture them all day long, but at the end of the day, our kids do what we do, not what we say. If we want to raise a confident kid, the first step is to model confidence. That means watching negative self-talk around our kids, being less upset when we make our own mistakes, and showing our kids that it’s okay to fail, try again, and persevere.
2. Let Them Fail
Failure isn’t fun. But failing is one way we learn to address shortcomings. Raising a confident kid means encouraging them to take risks – and yes, maybe even to watch them fail from time to time. We all learn through disappointment and mistakes. When your child overcomes those challenges, she’ll grow in magnificent ways.
3. Praise Perseverance
When our kids do fail (see above), it’s important not to let them quit. Too often, we fail, we abandon hope, and we give up on our ideas. The way to instill confidence is to encourage our kids to keep going – even through the hard. That’s how they learn that they can overcome obstacles.
4. Stop Expecting Perfection
Having high standards is great. Being a perfectionist, on the other hand, isn’t so great, especially when parenting kids. According to super-smart child psychologist types, “perfectionist parenting” is almost sure to set our kids up for failure. Instead, we need to let them know that it’s okay not to be perfect – because none of us are.
5. Develop Their Passions
We all have different passions and skills. As parents, we can raise confident kids by helping them discover those passions. Then, we can give them the tools and skills they need to pursue those passions. Have a little artist at home? Sign them up for art classes or create a painting space in your home. Is your daughter a soccer star? Get her on a competitive team, practice drills in the yard, and encourage her to run with you. Does your son have a knack for business? Brainstorm ways he can bring his entrepreneurial skills to life with a summer business.
Our kids are all unique. Encouraging their unique passions allows them to become fully confident in their uniqueness.
6. Praise Internal Attributes
Instead of focusing on the physical (“that outfit is super cute!” or “I love your hair!”), place more emphasis on internal attributes, like kindness, intelligence, or humor.
7. Help Them Set Goals
Everyone needs to set goals. Kids are no different. Pick a time to dream big with your kids, and help them set goals in school, at home, in extracurricular activities, and audacious goals for the future.
8. Teach Self-Affirmations
Self-talk is incredibly important. Take a few moments every day to say affirmations aloud with your child. Not only will this help you raise a confident kid, but it will boost your own confidence, too.
9. Give a Nudge Outside Their Comfort Zone
It’s easy for our kids to stick to what they know. But gently nudging them to try new things can reveal new skills. When our kids learn that they can try new things and succeed (even when those things are scary), it boosts their confidence.
10. Demonstrate Unconditional Love
Let’s face it: raising a confident kid isn’t easy. Most of us still struggle with self-confidence, too. The most important thing you can do to instill assurance and confidence in your child is to love them unconditionally. And we’re guessing you have that covered already.