How to raise self-confident kids (from a struggling mom)
In today’s world, how to raise self-confident kids should be a compulsory course, taught in schools. You do not agree?
Check the statistics of youngsters self-harming or involved in destructive behaviors and you’d come to agree with me that self-confident humans (little or big) are not easily rattled and could take on the ‘world’ head-on or ‘face-on’…squarely, super-heroishly.
We all could use that kind of self-confidence, I think.
I previously wrote about teaching self-confidence to my lil man in this post (originally on my old blog-home). At the time, he was just 4 years old.
Three years down the line, it appears we have not come much farther from that day.
So last week Friday, we had this interesting conversation where I got to be the lone audience of the ‘major declaration’ again…delivered almost-tearfully-downcast-slumpy-shouldered.
‘I don’t want to go to ‘that’ school again, I want to start going to another one’ (That school that ‘we’ had come to love so much, where ‘we’ are part of the orchestra!)
‘Because nobody wants to play with me in my class today. Also, ‘they’ laughed at me’
Forget the fact that ‘they’ played with him yesterday and the day before then.
‘Who are they, why did they not play with you today and also what was the laughter all about?’
‘All of them, including T and I. (…our ‘best’ friends!)
Whooza. I could feel all of the pain of betrayal in the chest of this 7yr old child of mine.
‘T laughed because I got 3/6 while he scored 6/6 in the grammar assignment and then when Ms B called me and I didn’t hear at first, they also laughed’
That’s definitely not a good one, especially When T is involved, maybe it’s really time to change schools. And then go on to meet another T or I or A or whoever would be our ‘new’ best friend for a while before the laughter begins again. And then the cycle would continue.
Maybe you can also relate with this scenario or a similar one. How do we handle this well enough to keep the flow from ebbing?
But first, for my boy…from a loving mom, one…two or three vital facts of life.
Fact of Life 1: People (including us) laugh. A lot. And we cannot help who loves or laughs at us or otherwise. Even as adults, our best bet would be to develop a skin so thick that would be impermeable to even the slimiest of taunts and the loudest of guffaws.
I bluntly told my boy numerous children / people are still going to laugh at him. Today. Tomorrow. And how often are we going to be changing his schools or his running shoes?
Fact number 2: He is a superman…and superheroes don’t run away (needlessly) from challenges, or do they?
I remember some of ‘Sister Mary Clarence’s words in Sister Act. I looooove that movie, can’t get enough of it. Or her.
And yes, I’m ‘old school’. Thank you.
Though he’s only seven but I’ve got to let these realities sink in somehow. I do not remember Whoopi’s exact words to Lauryn Hill in the movie, but it goes like this in my heart, still:
‘If you run away every time you are faced with a challenge, then you are going to keep running for the rest of your life’
My boy doesn’t need / want to constantly be on the run, neither do I so we’ve got to deal with this super-fast. In as much as I tried the ‘appropriate praise‘ route over the weekend to get his self-confidence up a notch, I’ve got a new checklist for myself…and them but before then,
Fact number 3: If you want people to ‘play’ with you, you have to show yourself friendly and inviting.
”A man…or boy that has friends must show himself friendly..” (love begets love) -Pr 18:24
A bonus fact: Nothing in life is constant. The fact that you scored 3/6 today does not imply that you are forever stuck in that rut. With some focus and hard work, you can score 6/6 tomorrow.
Now, here is how to raise self-confident kids, from a mother in the struggle
MAKE THEM KNOW AND FEEL LOVED
And that’s without mincing words, regardless of perceived inadequacies or his scores in Numeracy or Literacy.
EXERCISE RESTRAINT FROM ‘OVER-PRAISING’
…and yeah, there’s such a word as ‘over-praising’…
STEP ON THE ENCOURAGEMENT PEDAL MORE OFTEN
Harping more on the good points and encouraging a great deal is an ace, anyday. For instance, D1 is the only ‘author’ in the house so I’ve been constantly encouraging him to write some more for me to read and print. We’ve got some binded hand-written stories on sale. Only in the house though.
HAVE THEM HELP OUT IN THE HOUSE
Having my boys help out particularly in the kitchen makes them feel super important, what can beat such an achievement? I mean to be the ‘one’ to help mummy out in the kitchen is a confidence-booster.
GIVE THEM SOME LEVEL OF CONTROL IN CERTAIN AREAS
This is also a self-confidence booster as I’d come to understand. Like I recently had him come up with a meal time-table for the whole house and he did quite okay even though I had to ‘tweak’ some of the choices.
ENCOURAGE LITTLE TALKS / DISCUSSIONS
This is a simple one, really. The more you talk, the less you keep inside. So I am encouraging even the mundane talks. Letting them talk to me. A whole lot. Every time. Just because. I.am.their.best.friend. And what I think about them/him and their/his abilities should matter more than any other friend.
Progress report: He was as happy as a girl on her first date this morning save for a slight cloud over his countenance because he was not allowed to take his favorite story book along.
But we are still on the journey to constantly keep our self-confidence up for that’s the only way others opinions won’t rattle us so much.