The idea for this post about self confidence came about as a result of recent interactions with my boy. For days, I pondered on how one goes about teaching kids self-confidence to kids as young as 4year olds.
Any chance of them understanding?
How do you teach a 4yr old to develop thick skin that would prevent the never-ending environmental drama, criticisms and what-nots to seep in?
It appears these environmental drama starts so early these days, much earlier and sometimes seemingly harmless banter may get on the wrong side of the young receiver(s).
Please permit me to tell you a short story. No 2 short stories.
Sometimes last month, I was helping D1 into his uniform in the morning in preparation for school. He does this all by himself every day but I observed he was (quite unusually) dragging his ‘feet’ this particular morning.
And I also observed that the countenance of this little boy of mine who is always eager to race out of the house every morning for school was not bright.
I had to ask what the matter was eventually.
He replied that he did not want to go to school because his friends laughed at him during play the previous day. What the heck? His trusted and closest pals? The very same ones he rotate the best friend title for every week!
Tough one. That.
Fast-forward to another occasion, we were cooling down before bedtime and the kids were watching mickey mouse cartoon.
After the show, it was time for the ‘hot dog’ dance and my boys got up to join in the clubhouse dance. Both of them were seriously doing some cute acrobatic moves but D1’s was particularly hilarious so much that I couldn’t help bursting out in laughter.
And my adorable boy burst into tears, running to a corner with his tails tucked in-between his legs, literaly!
Because. Mum was laughing at him, ‘making fun of him’.
It took a while before I could convince him I laughed purely because I enjoyed his moves and my laughter was meant to cheer him on.
He still doesn’t realize that hundreds of people would laugh at him in the not so distant future, at different times and friends he trusted could / would let him down or laugh at him too. The world out there is tougher than the four walls of his parent’s living room.
So what happens then?
Is my beautiful boy going to be always breaking down with tears streaming down his face until someone comes along to offer comfort?
Is he always going to forever retreat at he sound or feel of derisive laughter?
Let downs, criticisms, etc are inevitable and are considered a part of the growing up process. Someone wrote that we cannot control how people react or perceive us but we can well control how we react to them. Goes without saying that no one can make us feel inferior without our consent and cooperation.
Like some adults tend to do, some kids would end up rooting their self confidence in how they measure up to their peers or how people accept them. It all starts early.
More reason we have to take charge when they are still highly impressionable and teach them some really good stuffs.
Poor self confidence may lead to deep-seated insecurity which often lead some people to put others down in order to create a feel-good factor for themselves.
Although mummy and daddy will not always be there to wipe tears away or hold their hands but mummy and daddy can help in preparing them for what may likely come and how to deal with it.
They can be taught how to stand up for themselves, how to hold their own.
This is one battle they have to fight for themselves. Period.
More reason I encourage D1 to ‘gist’ me about his day every evening, that is if he had not already reeled off the day’s happening on the way home from school. This really helps in determining the high or low points and ultimately determine how the day went for them.
Sometimes I just listen smilingly chipping in one or two words and at other times, I try to give a brief pep talk as occasion demands.
I definitely want my boys to be sensitive, kind, considerate, loving but I also want them to be tough and to develop some rock-solid self confidence while they are at it.
As parents, its our duty to help them on this journey with prayers and lots of support. Check out the rising rate of suicides, I believe some are rooted deeply in lack of self esteem, self confidence.
Teaching kids self confidence early is vital. Very crucial in preparing them for what lies ahead and may well be the foundation for a happy and stable life.
The way you perceive yourself determines your reaction to issues, how you treat others and how you allow them treat you .
It has been shown by research that self confident people interact better socially, accomplish more generally and are less likely prone to social disorders, anxiety, etc.
So what can parents do to help kids develop some thick self confidence?
1. Model the right kind of acceptable behavior.
These kids read us, they learn from our actions and reactions so the onus falls on us to show them how we want them to act and react. What they learn and imbibe will go a long way in helping them out there.
Pray for them…very important. Speak what you desire for them into their lives. No amount of modelling or teaching can work if God is not involved. (I believe in God and the efficacy of prayer).
2. Encourage them.
D1 is constantly dreaming he’s a king, that is when he’s not dreaming about the baby sister he sees in my tummy…lol… When he tells me of his dream, I don’t laugh at him but rather I applaud and speak ‘kingship’ into his life. Yes he’s a king. Kings are brave and strong, you know.
Tell them they are good, tell them they are smart. Encourage them to be better.
3. Play with them.
Very important to make out time to really play with them.
Give them pep talks
Kids look up to parents to chart the way for them so, put on your motivational speaker garment and give them some motivational talks from time to time.
Talk them into seeing the ‘lion in the mirror’ even when they are feeling all ‘catty’. On another occasion, my boy came home one day and said he wont go to school again because someone called him a ‘small boy’ in school apparently cos he’s small in stature compared with his mates. I just asked him whether he believed he was small even though his body language already confirmed what he believed and that’s why he wanted to chicken out.
But he couldn’t admit that to mummy, so he said no.
I told him hes my big boy and I love him so much and next time anyone calls him a small boy he should call them ‘a very small boy’, no he should call them ‘a very tiny boy’. The package does not determine the quality of the content, right? Right.
That got him laughing out loud and got hubby who was listening asking whether I was also teaching him to bully. Know what I told him? I said no, what I was teaching him is called standing up for oneself. Period.
On another occasion, he was recounting the day’s events and told me he laughed at one of his classmates who they had concluded was fat .
What? Immediately I told him it’s wrong to call someone fat (even if the person is truly fat, why taunt them and add to their misery?).
She’s just bigger than them because she eats better. And how would he feel if she called him tiny? Raw spot, there.
4. Show them you love them, unconditionally.
Say it like you mean it, and act like you mean it. Always. Be generous with words and show of affection. Hug them, constantly affirm your love for them; will make them feel good.
5. Avoid unnecessary comparison.
Ok. I’m guilty of this but presently working on not comparing D1 to his friends who are bigger than him because they supposedly eat better than him or to D2 who eats better than him or to his friend who doesnt cry like a baby at every provocation. Real or imagined
6. Be very generous with praise.
Make them feel good when they are good. He succeeded in finishing his meal within 45mins without you yelling? Praise him.
Okay, I stop here and the above is by no means exhaustive, you may share your tips in the comment box.