Wouldn’t it be great if we could all raise kids that have the confidence to face the world come what may? I had a few basic questions about Raising Confident Children and was looking for some clear understanding of what we all can do.

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Read on for the questions that are probably on every parent’s mind when it comes to building confidence in kids and responses from FIONA WALKER, GROUP MANAGING DIRECTOR, JULIA GABRIEL EDUCATION

Why it is important to raise confident kids in today’s world?

Our world is changing rapidly and the advancements in technology mean that we can no longer know what academic learning will be relevant 10 or 20 years from now.  What we do know is that children who can bounce back from setbacks, who can learn and relearn, who can articulate their thoughts and feelings and believe that they have a value to add, can flourish in an ever changing world. Confidence is defined as a belief or trust in your own abilities and judgment and this is developed from a very young age.

How to prepare kids to be more confident in day to day life? – Tips and tricks from Educators

  • Understand each child’s strengths.  Always look for a child’s strengths and communicate that with the parents.  All too often we focus on the areas of improvement, but before you tackle any areas you may want to support development in, look at the strengths.
  • Use positive language in the classroom. Children, in fact all of us, need 5 positive comments or experiences to balance or cancel a negative comment or experience. By being well aware of this we can stop ourselves falling into the trap of constantly saying ‘No, not like that, don’t do that, be careful, don’t touch…..”
  • Let children help others.  By saying ‘Tommy is good at that, he can help you” you are giving Tommy a tremendous boost of positive self-esteem as well as encouraging cooperation and collaboration.
  • Praise children for the effort they put in, not the outcome.  This is the way we develop a growth mindset in children as opposed to a fix mindset, which limits them.

How parents can help? – ways in which parents can work with kids 

  • Avoid making comparisons: No one likes to hear that someone else can do something better.  Remember that children all develop at different rates and in different areas. Don’t worry about how they compare to their peers, or siblings. Instead of saying: “Can’t you sit still at the table like your sister?” Try: “Wow, I think you have managed to sit on your bottom for almost the whole of dinner! Well done! Maybe tomorrow you be able to get through the whole meal without getting up, what do you think?”
  • Try not to undermine his ability: This is especially difficult when we are rushing to go out.  It is very easy to say, “Here, why don’t I put your shoes on for you, we have to hurry!” In our busy lives we have to remember children take longer to do things than we do. It may be time saving and more efficient to assist them but it does not develop their independence or confidence in their own abilities.
  • Establish and follow routines: young children thrive on routine. It helps them to predict what will happen next. This enables them to make sense of their world and develop a sense of security. Once children become familiar with the routine they will become confident that they can order their lives themselves.
  • Be consistent: Consistency is necessary to develop routines. Consistency in your behaviour and reactions is equally important in developing a confident child. If you are erratic and your reactions often depend on your emotional or physical state then children will take a longer time to develop confidence in what is expected of them and how their behaviour will be received.
  • Encourage social interaction: Children who have been exposed to a number of social situations and are at ease when with other adults or peers will be more confident than a child who has had little interaction beyond the family circle. For some children a relaxed play date may seem a bit daunting and you may have to initiate games and role-play by being actively involved yourself. This is well worthwhile, as it will encourage the development of the social skills that are closely linked to confidence.
  • Plan regular exposure to new situations: The more experiences and exposure to new situations you can give to your child the greater his confidence in the world will be. Plan lots of different activities you can do together so there will be no anxiety for your little one. Think of positive experiences in your child’s early years as steps on a ladder, the more you add together the closer he will get to reaching the stars.
  • Spend quality time together: Take the time to really listen to and connect with your child.  All too often we have our hand-phone in one hand and an eye on our email, even when we are pretending to be princesses locked away in a dungeon, or when our children come to us with a sincere question. Without taking the time to really be present with our children we do not validate their opinions, ideas and thoughts. This is necessary for a child to begin to develop a sense of confidence in their self-worth.

Confidence and Over Confidence – what’s the difference and how to ensure that they don’t cross the line.

Confidence is a belief in yourself and your abilities and overconfidence is that coupled with a lack of awareness. Awareness of both your own abilities and awareness of others, this includes empathy.

People who come across as over-confident often have little regard for others, and may not even be aware of how their actions affect others.  Over-confidence can also be a lack of awareness of your own limitations, just because you may not be the best person to do a specific task does not mean you lack confidence, you are just realistic.

You can be confident and at the same time, be aware of yourself and your impact on others. Confidence should never be mistaken as being arrogant or aggressive. In fact it is the most confident children who are kind and show compassion for others.  Children who bully others are often lacking in confidence and only by making others feel bad can they feel better.

At Chiltern House preschool we introduced a mindfulness programme so that children are able to develop the qualities of:

  • Awareness of self and others and the environment
  • Acceptance, or non-judgement, of others and situations
  • Stillness or calm, peacefulness regardless the situation
  • Kindness to self and others.

If children can develop the above qualities along with confidence they will be well positioned to enjoy success in school and life.

A sense of confidence is nurtured by a loving family, by physical and emotional warmth and care. We all want what is best for our children and for them to grow up to be happy, confident adults. By talking and listening to our children we can get to know who they are, what are their strengths, interests and characters. By respecting their individuality and setting realistic goals for our children we can enable them to flourish by going from strength to strength.

Confidence comes from knowing we are loved and accepted for who we are, not only when we succeed but also when we stumble on that path to success and happiness.

Thanks Fiona for your insightful responses!

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