There’s no doubt that parenting can be tough sometimes, but one of the great joys of the experience is getting to give your kids the tools they need to be great human beings. Often we focus on getting kids to eat a healthy diet or take enough exercise, and although these things are extremely important, we also need to acknowledge the formative role we have as parents in shaping their mental health. We can pass on an extremely valuable gift for life by giving them the tools and the language to talk about their well being and take positive steps to fix it. The trouble is, sometimes we have not had this support ourselves, so it can be hard to know where to start. In making the conscious decision to give your children emotional resilience and confidence in their own abilities, you may well go on a journey yourself, and come out the other side much stronger. But where do you begin when you need to take the first step?
Allow Them To Make Choices
True confidence comes from understanding yourself and having faith in your capabilities, and we can only give that to our children if we allow them some freedom of choice. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t guide them and be there to support them, but encouraging them to think about their own actions, think through consequences and evaluate the impact is hugely important. You can offer a ‘set menu’ of options to give them a framework, but knowing when to step back and allow them to fail is an art – and one that will teach them so much more resilience, confidence and independent thought in the end.
Get Them Support Where Needed
Sometimes in life, extra support is needed to help your child overcome a particular issue. This could be getting some specialist counselling if your child has encountered a difficult situation like the death of a loved one or parental separation at an early age, or seeing a speech pathologist if they need help in that area. Working towards helping them overcome any issues early on, before they have the chance to develop into more, can be quite life-altering. Part of effective parenting is recognizing your own limitations and tagging in the professionals if necessary.
Talk About Failure
It’s an experience that no one likes to think about – but at some point in their life, your child will experience failure. And that isn’t necessarily a negative thing. In fact, failure is very valuable as it teaches us a lot more than instant success. Learning to take feedback on board levelly, being able to return from a setback, accepting criticism where justified and applying the lesson to improve something is absolutely essential. There are no true success stories that don’t have failure in them. Let your child know that it’s important to fail, and that it doesn’t reflect on who they are as person – the important thing is what they do afterwards. We can spend a lot of energy trying to control life’s events when it simply isn’t possible. Teach your child to accept that, and focus on the things that they can control and they’re likely to lead a happier and more confident life.
Avoid False Praise
Wanting to build our kids up is very natural, and sometimes this means that we take any opportunity to offer them some praise. And while this is lovely, kids actually have a very finely honed radar for insincere compliments. It’s important that the praise we offer them is both genuine and specific. Instead of platitudes, tell them exactly what about their actions is so commendable. Giving praise correctly is a process which can be very beneficial.
Give Them Assigned Tasks
Building confidence can be achieved with age-appropriate chores too. Letting children contribute to the running of the household gives them a sense of ownership and lets them make small achievements during the course of each day. Activities such as cooking with children are also great ways to bring the family closer together – and can often be helpful with encouraging them to eat healthily as well. Walking the dog, folding or sorting laundry, setting the table or watering plants are also great ones. Completing these things gives children a feeling of accomplishment and being competent which will encourage them onto bigger things. Try to relax if things are less than perfect – the gains that your children are making each day are more than worth letting them do it their own way a little bit!