What does confidence look like and how do we recognize it in our children? It might be defined as:
- Willing to try something new
- Happy to contribute own ideas
- Able to relate to others’ feelings
- Making eye contact; smiling
- Good at handling failure
It’s important to acknowledge the phrase, ‘quietly confident,’ too — it’s not all about playing the lead role. You should also pay attention to how your child is demonstrating confidence — this is often via their body language and non-verbal clues. And keep in mind that this can all change when your child is in their adolescent years.
Core principles for growing your child’s confidence
Practicing positive parenting will help boost your child’s confidence. This style of parenting is based on the belief that your children want to communicate with you. It suggests you actively listen to them, discuss, and are very clear about what you want them to do. You set clear limits and boundaries, are firm and consistent, and give the same message every time. Positive parenting views disagreements between parents and children as opportunities to develop problem-solving and negotiation skills.
Here are four core principles to follow:
- Ask questions - Asking your child questions conveys that you value their opinion.
- Be reliable - Doing what you say you’ll do — or being where you say you’ll be — builds your child’s sense of security.
- Demonstrate empathy - Look for the feelings behind your child’s behavior or words. Imagine how your child is feeling and talk about it with them.
- Promote curiosity - Encourage your child to explore and engage with the world around them.
Fixed mindsets vs. growth mindsets
Staying aware of these four core principles will put you in a better position to help your child develop the essential characteristics of a growth mindset. A growth mindset will help them understand that they shouldn’t always expect success. It’ll make it easier for them to deal with failure and will be essential to their future emotional health and wellbeing, not to mention their academic achievements.
How is a growth mindset different from a fixed mindset? Here are the characteristics of each:
- Embrace challenges
- Persist in the face of setbacks
- See effort as the path to mastery
- Learn from criticism
- Find inspiration in the success of others
- Intelligence is static
- Avoid challenges
- Give up easily
- See effort as fruitless
- Ignore feedback
- Feel threatened by success of others
Here are three things you can start doing now:
- Use descriptive praise — the first ingredient in supporting and developing confidence and self-esteem. Instead of just exclaiming, “Wow, amazing, great,” name and describe what you’re praising.
- Spend one-on-one time with your child and minimize distractions.
- Take every opportunity to boost your child’s confidence. Supporting your child will help them feel better about themselves.
Dr. Laura Markham, ‘Calm Parents, Happy Kids: The Secrets of Stress Free Parenting’