Is there anything so worthwhile and fulfilling as committing yourself to the raising of a child? My heart swells with pride to know that this is MY calling as a mother. I consider this time with my children precious, relishing in the day to day flow, but also with consideration toward my duties as a mother. To raise them to the best of my ability, allowing them to grow into their individual strengths and using each day as an opportunity to point their hearts toward a wonderful Father and preparing them for the life ahead. It’s a tall order, but a very worthy endeavor.
Of the many things I wish for my children, one of the most important is that they would grow to be confident. Confident in themselves, their abilities, even confident in what they hope to accomplish someday. I want them to know that they are fully capable of anything they commit themselves wholly to and that they’re unique, special, and perfectly created to accomplish a purpose designed by God.
1. Positive Affirmations
Perhaps one of the most obvious ways you can help build a child’s confidence, positive affirmations are my number one go-to. Positive affirmations can be as simple as telling your child you love them or praising their creative artistic accomplishments. With many of my affirmations, I have a little hidden nugget for them to consider. For example, I love to tell my sweet little boy what a great big brother he is, remarking how much his little brother looks up to him. This instills pride in big brother, but also causes him to consider that he has a little brother watching and learning from him. I cannot stress enough how important positive words are on a child’s heart. Our words leave a permanent imprint that can be almost impossible to erase, so we must strive daily to make that imprint as positive as we can. Compliment the little things they do to help around the house, while allowing helpful suggestions for them to grow and improve. Which leads me to my next suggestion…
2. Provide Opportunities for Your Children to Grow and Improve
As a stay-at-home mom, I am asked questions all day long. My children want to know if they can jump off the bookcase, climb on top of the counter to get their cup down, play with the vacuum, wash the dishes, help me clean, etc. The questions do not stop! It’s so much easier to say ‘no’, ‘no’, and ‘no’ than to risk them getting hurt or making a huge mess I’ll have to clean up. BUT, saying ‘no’ all the time hardly allows for a chance to learn something. Saying ‘no’ all day long doesn’t teach them a new skill. Oftentimes, saying ‘no’ to question after question only leads to frustration, tears, and boredom. And boredom often leads to trouble. You can take that from a mom of three. I want to encourage you to say ‘yes’ more often than you say ‘no’. Let your children clean your windows and wash the dishes. Teach them at a young age to put their underwear and socks away and eventually they’ll be folding and hanging their clothing without any trouble at all. On a good day, my 5 year old will put away her AND her brothers’ laundry – all by herself! I don’t expect her to do that all the time, but when she does I am using all the positive affirmations in the book!
3. Point Out Their Unique Qualities
One thing I stress over and over to other parents is the fact that each child is different. Children learn at different paces. Some can focus on a long list of instructions, while others will require you to guide them one step at a time. Your child may color outside of the lines until they’re 7 or 8, but they may use an array of colors. Another child might be very precise in their coloring, but only reach for one or two colors. Does this make one right and the other wrong? Certainly not! There is always something to praise, such as the beautiful colors they chose or their careful precision. Once you turn your eyes and ears on to looking for unique aspects in all that they do, these things will jump out at you more and more often. My oldest two children are very different from each other. My oldest daughter is very literal, requiring me to be careful with my instructions. My next child, a boy, often looks for the shortcut in chores and assigned tasks. While praising my daughter for how carefully she accomplishes exactly what I asked, I can praise my son for his ingenuity in finding more than one way to do something that is asked of him. Pointing out these unique qualities is a great way to boost their confidence and encourage them to continue on the right path.
4. Show Interest in Their Interests
How would showing interest in dinosaurs or unicorns boost your child’s confidence? Children are always exploring, learning, and acquiring special interests. One week they may want to know everything they possibly can about birds, whereas the next week their attention has shifted completely to something like dragons or policeman. Their craving for knowledge and new things is fascinating! I implore you to stop and be present with your child. Sit down and listen to them tell you all about the latest dinosaur they read about or answer their questions about the bird they saw out the window. And if you don’t know the answer, Google it or show them how to look it up in a book. If your child loves Lego, then skip watching TV and sit down on the floor and build with him. Spending time being PRESENT with your children and showing interest in what they’re doing tells your child that they’re important to you. Knowing this will do wonders to build their confidence and cement their position in your life. Children need to know they’re more important than your phone, Facebook, or the latest movie.
5. Provide Opportunities for Them to Practice Their Confidence
Finally, every child must be given opportunities on a regular basis to practice their levels of confidence. Whether its singing a song in front of family, telling grandma a story, or “paying” for an item at the grocery store, these are all viable opportunities for children to engage an audience on their own. Even something as simple as story hour at your local library can help a child with group participation. When I first started taking my kids to the local library for children’s events, we would often participate in a ‘Fun to be Fit’ program. There would be all sorts of silly songs and the teacher would encourage everyone to get up and follow her movements. We don’t do a lot of silly dancing at home, so at first my daughter was a little taken aback. Her brother, a toddler at the time, bobbed up and down to the music with great excitement. I continued to take them for many weeks and eventually, she was able to move past her fear of everyone watching her and worrying whether she was being too silly or doing it right. Eventually she learned to just have fun. It’s important to get out there and get involved with your kids, teach them how to speak respectfully to adults, and how to engage in conversation. Next time you go to the supermarket, try letting your child make simple decisions such as which can of tomatoes to buy or how many apples will we need this week. Then, let them assist you in putting everything on the belt for the cashier. Ask them to greet the cashier and ask her how her day is going. Use what you consider to be life’s mundane tasks as a way to teach your child and help them grow as an individual.
Raising a confident child doesn’t mean raising a know-it-all or perfectionist. Confidence is not measured by how much we know or what we’re capable of. Confidence is an inner strength, built up with love, care and attention. To be a confident child is to know you are loved and cherished, that you are important to your family, and that what you do, say and become in life matters greatly. All children should be encouraged to dream and as their parents we should do our very best to equip them anyway we can. As I said earlier, I cannot think of anything so worthwhile and fulfilling as committing myself wholly to the raising of my children. It is my sincerest prayer each night that the Lord grants me wisdom to raise them as He would have them to be.