As a mother of two boys, I’m always amazed at how incredibly different two kids can be. They are both sweet, kind, hilarious, intelligent and thoughtful young men, but when it comes to self-esteem and confidence…they are polar opposites!
For our oldest, most things in life have always come quite easily to him. He learned to read quite early with ease, he catches onto video games better than most adults, and he’s excelled at pretty much any sport he’s ever tried to play. So, his self-esteem and confidence levels are usually pretty good. He’s not arrogant by any means, but he doesn’t get down on himself too often either. It’s a good balance.
Our youngest on the other hand…completely different story. He tends to take a little longer to reach his goals and because of that, he becomes hard on himself. He gets upset and thinks he can’t do things because it didn’t happen the first time. The words “I can’t!” and “I’m so bad at this” have become common statements in our house. I’m sure having an older brother that appears to do anything and everything without struggle hasn’t helped his self-esteem either.
While we obviously try to build confidence in both our children, I’ve found that our youngest requires a little more encouragement and a little more praise. No parent likes hearing their children speak negatively about themselves, so I thought I’d share some insight on some simple strategies that we’ve found has helped to build confidence in our children.
Praise – Make sure you praise them for trying their best. Kids need to know that their EFFORT is important – not just the outcome. So, whether they hit the game winning home run and become the team hero, or they came in 9th place at the local spelling bee, they need to know that you – their parent - are proud of them no matter what because they tried their best.
Encouragement – Make sure you’re using words of encouragement like “Good job”, “You can do it!”, “You make me proud.” If they’re having a bad day and think they can’t do something, remind them of some past achievements. Like, when they thought that couldn’t read that book, or when they thought they would never score a goal – and they did! Simple reminders of what they’ve achieved and a few words of encouragement can go a long way.
Positive Influences – When you surround your children with happy, confident and positive people, it’s bound to rub off. As adults, we don’t like being around people who are angry or negative all the time – and neither do kids! And it’s certainly not healthy for them. Being around adults who are happy, confident, and encouraging will help them think that way too.
Give them Chores – If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll complain when you ask them to take out recycling or put away their clothes. But when they’re done and I thank them for helping me – they smile from ear to ear. They feel helpful. They feel needed. They feel GOOD about themselves. (And hey – they might start doing more chores WITHOUT complaining! I can hope, right?)
Love – Yep, it’s that simple. Show them how much you love them. Tell them you love them every single day. Multiple times. Hug them. Kiss them. Squeeze them. Leave no doubt in their mind that you love them more than anyone else in this world.
Sometimes, that’s all they need.