How can I instil confidence and self belief in to my child?
It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. I was quite a shy child, a “people-pleaser” who would always keep away from conflict. School for me was fine because I made damn sure I was in a well-liked crowd and didn’t stick out. That’s great if it gets you through arguably the hardest part of childhood. But inside I always felt like I wanted to be more confident. To speak up, and not to be so afraid of an argument or being different.
As an adult I still feel that way, though friends and family would probably say that I can be a stroppy cow at times. They are right, but that’s because I’m comfortable around them. When it comes to work situations it’s a different story. I am prone to getting walked all over, worried about giving an answer that someone won’t like. Always saying “yes” to any request.
So how do I ensure that Lily isn’t like that? It’s one do the things I wish I could change about myself. How do I help Lily avoid this people pleasing mentality? I’ve been doing some research, and to start with I looked at how I act around Lily. Kids learn so much from seeing how their parents behave. So at least around Lily I always try to speak my mind, to stand up for myself and say my opinion. I don’t put myself down, say I can’t do something, or act in a defeatist manor.
Letting a child know that they have a voice is vital as well. They have opinions that are important and valid. I will ask Lily what she thinks, what she would like. Even at three I give her the power to make choices, even if it’s a tiny choice like which cereal to have for breakfast, or what film we watch.
Another important aspect of confidence is to have belief in your own abilities. For Lily to know that she CAN achieve things. She is capable and has the skills to be able to put her mind to things and to succeed. Encouraging her to build that tower even higher, praising her when she makes a new Duplo creation, or when she takes her train set and builds a new track. Praise is so important. Making people feel valued and like they really have achieved something, even as an adult, is sure to fill them with pride.
A fear of failing is an issue that so many of us have, and one that can destroy our confidence and self esteem. So much so that we end up not even trying, not taking that risk. If Lily’s tower falls down it’s no big deal, we try and build it again even better than before. If she falls off a bike she gets back on again. Teaching our children that if something doesn’t go to plan, we can try again instead of giving up and admitting defeat.
Then there’s play dates. The tricky reality of play dates which sound like a good idea at the time but then turn in to squabbles over whose turn it is to play with the fire engine. If Lily’s playing with a toy and the other child snatches it off her it’s all too easy to try and be polite to the other child and parent and say “oh no it’s fine they can have a turn”.
Well sharing is great and very important, but if Lily has just picked up a toy that the other child clearly wasn’t interested in a moment ago, I’m not going to tell her to give it straight to them because they suddenly want it too. I obviously wouldn’t snatch it straight back off the child, but if the parent is encouraging them to give it back I’m not going to disagree. Sometimes we’re too worried about being impolite, and that is mainly where my lack of confidence comes from, I never want to offend.
It’s clear that Lily has the capacity to be very very strong willed and determined. She speaks her mind and isn’t afraid of telling me what she thinks! But will she have the confidence to be that bold when she’s older, and in situations that aren’t as comfortable as just at home or with friends and family? I really hope so.
Has anyone read any books, or just have any tips on any of this? I would be really interested to hear if you do.