The nervous tension building in the pit of my stomach, it was my turn. My turn to sit on my dad's lap and drive down the road. My turn to be brave and try and drive in a straight line. My dad would control the foot pedals (because of course at the time I was too short to control them myself) and I would control the wheel. Having control of the wheel was the most exhilarating experience. Driving a car that is so powerful makes you feel like you have all the power in you. Growing up in a rural area really does have its perks sometimes. No matter how many times I veered off to the side of our dirt driveway, my dad would always steer me back to the right direction, giving me calm orders and letting me experience the moment for myself, building my confidence as I went.
Self-confidence is not something that always comes naturally in people. Sometimes, we have to be given the opportunity to shine and other times we need a little guidance. But there are proven strategies that we can do every day to help our kids become the strong and independent people we want them to be, all on their own. The best part is, they won't even know you are guiding them with these few simple steps.
1. With praise
Alright, I know a lot of teachers. I have taken a lot of parenting classes. I have gotten down to some of the nitty gritty of what causes some childhood behaviors (having a child with social behaviors myself) and I have to say this is the easiest thing we can do. Amazingly, our kids don't realize that you are boosting them up when you give them this daily. It can be as simple as praising them for getting up on time from bed, or thanking them for their good work placing dishes in the sink after eating. When you tell your kids they are doing a good job at anything (as long as they truly are doing a good job at it), you are giving them the best tool they can have. Now, don't be one of those parents that gives their kids praise for EVERY little thing. I mean, for one thing, it's really hard to do. And for another, you don't want your kids being TOO confident! Cocky kids are no fun! Pick your praise with intention and I promise you, you will get them to try harder at the task next time and really see a change in their attitude when they know you are cheering them on, especially when it's coming from people they love.
2. Assign chores
This one may not be as intuitive as the last one, but let me tell you it works! Giving your children jobs to complete around the house (that are age appropriate of course) will allow them to have not only a sense of responsibility in the house, but it will also give them a sense of accomplishment when they complete something worthwhile for the people they love. Now, I am the first one to say that every kid is different. Kids are not going to come right and say to you that they appreciate the challenge and they love helping out the family. Your kid may even groan and moan and whine and complain about this said chore. They are not going to actually thank you for this opportunity to do their laundry or to clean up the yard or put away their toys. But what you are teaching them is way more subliminal than that. Remember that they are tips for raising your kid's confidence on the sly- not out in the open for everyone to see. When they see that they can do certain life chores, they grow up to be better functioning adults that are more capable of handling the tough life stuff.
3. Give them choices
Another aspect of raising children that can make their own decisions, and feel confident enough to do so, is by giving them the ability to make there own choices at an early age. Do they want to wear the blue top or the green top today? Do they want to work on cleaning their room now or when they get home from lunch? There are tons of ways to add choices into their lives. And if you have a child that is stubborn like mine that wants that third choice, you give them a chance to learn what consequences are all about! Ha! Sometimes not picking a good choice is just as big a part of raising them with self confidence than when they do make a good choice. It's all about growing up and learning as they grow. But they don't know that!
4. With photos
One of the interesting parts of today's society is that we are a digital nation rather than a print nation. This is not new news. Another interesting part of this, is that because we have become more of a society to share things online through social media and other means of digital sharing, it becomes more apparent that people are printing less and less of those digital memories. I am not here to talk about how social media is changing the face of our nation and lowering our self esteem as a whole. That is a topic all in itself that I may write another day. What I am here to tell you is that, because we don't print these memories, they get forgotten. And while there are always more memories to be had, there is never a time when going back and reliving the old ones, doesn't bring joy to your life. Just think about how good you feel when a Facebook Memory pops up in your feed that you love so much you have to share it again. Is every memory worth printing? Is every memory worth reliving? I would argue yes, but again that is another topic for another day. So what does all this have to do with your kid's self-confidence? Interestingly enough, when your kids see themselves in a photo, it shows them a few things. It shows them they are loved enough for you to print their photo and it shows them that you are willing to take the time to remember something about them. All in all, this is a proven effect of raising their self-confidence. When you think about it, it becomes a no-brainer. Again, it's not a conscious thing we think about in our brains. It's all subliminal, just how we like it.
So a little each week, just think about these things. Of course there are way more ways to add subliminal messages to your kid's lives that increase their confidence, but you know, you can go in search other them yourself. In the mean time check out the top three adventures that will actually raise your spirits.