No kid is alike, just look at your family. If you have more than one child you know pretty early on that even though kids come from the same gene pool they don’t always act alike. Or think alike. Or even look alike. My three boys are all very different. One is a studious, intelligent, more anxiety-prone kid. The second is athletic, sensitive, and a ladies’ man. And my youngest is the social butterfly, independent, without a care in the world. Even though they are all different it is my goal to make sure I raise confident kids.
Being that my children are all different, they also have varying levels of confidence. We’ve raised them all the same way yet some respond better to certain disciplines and techniques than others and vice versa. Their different personality types, quirks, likes, and dislikes also play a role in their levels of self-esteem. Not to mention, we evolve as parents once we have more than one kid (I am a completely different mom with my third than I was with my first!!!)
3 Steps To Raise Confident Kids
An article from Focus On The Family called Building Self-Esteem In Your Kids quotes Dr. Leman, author of Have a New Kid by Friday, for saying that “healthy self-esteem is cultivated in children through Acceptance, Belonging and Competence.”
Our kids want our love, acceptance, and approval. If we are always pushing them away, even in subtle ways, by criticizing their personal choices, or their behavior then we send a message that both they and their choices are not accepted by us. This can cause our children to withdraw and seek approval in less desirable outlets such as online, their appearance, or from peers.
“According to Dr. Leman, ‘Your unconditional acceptance of your child means everything in her development.’”
Show interest in the things your kids are interested in. Show that you love them, you care, and you make an effort. And show them you will always be there for them no matter what.
In my house, we say, “I love you no matter what. I’ll never leave you. There is nothing you could say to make me stop loving you.”
Everyone has a desire to belong and feel connected with others. No matter how old, what their background, or ethnicity is. We all just want to belong. It is important for us to foster a sense of community for our kids in our home. They will feel comfortable in the greater community if at first, they have a sense of what that means at home. We can let them participate in family meetings and decisions, we can support them in their sporting events and activities, and give them their own choices.
This is something I struggle with a lot. I do too much for my kids. Why? Because I know I do it faster and better. And with three kids sometimes I just don’t have time to let someone attempt tying their shoes for the 5th time that morning. But I am learning that if I want them to be well-adjusted, independent, and contributing members of society I need to give them the gift of competence.
Confident Kids: Eagles
I love this story of the mother eagle giving the gift of competence to her eaglet:
“The way a mother eagle teaches her eaglets to fly is an excellent example of how guiding (without over-controlling) helps kids mature and develop healthy self-esteem.
When a mother eagle wants her baby to fly, she waits until her eaglet is 80% of his adult size. Then she sets him on the edge of the nest and pushes him off into the wild blue. She watches her baby bird freefall, then swoops down just in time to catch him on her wings. This exercise is repeated over and over until the baby eaglet learns to fly.
By doing this, her baby’s confidence (and self-esteem, if eagles had such a thing) grows. Imagine if she was overly protective. Her eaglet would never learn to fly; he’d never mature.” (Source)
Confident Kids: Final Words
Sometimes, well a lot of times, we have to give our kids a nudge knowing they are probably going to fail. But if we want them to learn what it is to succeed, then they have to learn to fail gracefully as well. And then to get back up and try again, and again.
As Christians, we know these sweet little babies are on loan from us. It is our job to guide them, teach them, and help them to spread their wings confidently while pointing them back to Jesus.