Do you know what’s the best and most long-lasting gift you can give to your little one? Confidence and a positive self-image!
Children who are more confident in their abilities are more likely to have a positive self-image and high self-esteem - and children with high self-esteem are more likely to feel loved, wanted and accomplished. They’re also more proactive and open to learning new things.
Expert Corner: Why Is Confidence Important?
According to Carl Pickhardt, a renowned psychologist who has authored well over 15 books on parenting and child development, low confidence can seriously hamper a child’s ability to learn and absorb new things.
Pickhardt asserts that a child who lacks confidence will be less open to new experiences and hesitant about trying new things because he or she is afraid of disappointing others or failing. He warns that this could turn into a hard-to-alter pattern and cause problems for the child later in life. Furthermore, he cautions that this pattern can last well into adulthood.
This means that the way you treat your baby during childhood can shape them for life! As overwhelming as that sounds, it's true - and it’s a lot of responsibility! But as parents, you need to take steps to build your child’s confidence, reinforce their positive self-image and encourage them every step of the way, so they grow into accomplished, happy and productive adults.
So, how do you get started? Pickhardt has some advice to offer, “Fear and discouragement are two factors that bring down confidence in young children, so they should be avoided at any cost.” That means that you have to ensure that you are motivating your child and support them when they tackle a difficult task or try something new.
How to Build Confidence in Your Child?
So, as a parent or a caretaker, what can you do to boost your little one’s confidence? Our experts have compiled a list of top 5 things you can do right now to encourage your baby and build their confidence:
1) Give Them Unconditional Love
This might seem obvious to you but it's extremely important that your child feels accepted and loved from the very beginning. As parents, you have a pivotal role to play in this. You need to make sure that your child feels safe and loved when they are with you.
But remember, you are not the only people your child interacts with on a daily basis. Babies should get love from home because it begins there but your baby’s extended family, relatives, grandparents, teachers, schoolmates and even the community are just as important!
Set an example by treating your child like a little adult. It's normal for exhausted and overworked parents to make mistakes but it’s important that you immediately acknowledge that you’ve made a parenting mistake, give your baby a hug and tell them you’re sorry and you still love them.
2) Teach Them That Mistakes Are Normal
Perfection is unreal and parents should never engage in toxic behaviors such as comparisons. While fostering a sense of healthy competition in your child is crucial to their development, you should never ever make your child feel like you’re disappointed in them. Don’t let an unrealistic obsession with perfection affect your child.
Instead of harshly criticizing them for their mistakes or being sarcastic, be patient with your baby and tell them that perfection is a myth and we are all expected to make mistakes and they provide us with an opportunity to learn.
“Learning from mistakes bolsters confidence in children,” seconds Pickhardt. Pickhardt says children begin learning from mistakes when parents, teachers and other caregivers look at all the “uh-oh moments” as an opportunity to teach children not to fear failure.
3) Praise Them Wisely
A lot has been said so far about encouraging your babies but how do you do that? The simplest way to build confidence in children is to praise them and tell them that you are proud of them. Young children, especially babies and toddlers, measure their self-worth and achievements according to your standards and that is why they respond very well to realistic praise.
The trick here is to be as realistic in your praise as possible and appreciate your baby’s efforts instead of their overall performance. Being realistic is super important because if you appreciate your child using hollow words or overpraise them, they will be able to see through the farce and develop trust issues with you.
That’s why be as honest as possible and provide detailed and realistic feedback to your child instead of exaggerated appreciation. Instead of telling your child that they’re the best artist in the world after they show you a drawing, try telling them you really liked how they drew the whole family together or used eye-pleasing colours, etc.
Instead of overpraising your child and passing generic statements like “that wasn’t too bad, buddy!”, try acknowledging the truth and praise your baby for their effort, attitude, struggle and approach instead of the results. That will make them feel worth it, regardless of the outcome of their actions.
4) Lead by Example
It's no secret that children learn best from the example set by their parents. You are your baby’s hero - at least until the tumultuous teens, so you better set a good example!
Your child learns from the way you respond to everyday tasks and the attitude you have towards them. “Watching you succeed at a task will make your child confident that they can perform it too,” agrees Pickhardt.
Simply put, your baby will pick up on your habits so make sure you put effort into whatever you are doing for the day. When you handle a task with a cheerful and confident attitude, you’re basically teaching your child to do the same and that’s good for their confidence.
When you fail at doing something, its okay to admit that you have failed in front of your child but make sure you establish that mistakes are completely normal and mention the corrective steps you would take.
For example, if you forgot to buy an item on the grocery list you can admit you have a weak memory but you should also mention what you’re doing to remedy this issue; making lists & notes, relying on a reminder app on your phone, playing memory games etc. This will make your baby think that problems are normal and they can always work their way out of them, which is great for your baby’s esteem.
5) Focus on the Playtime
Challenging your child or teaching them new things such as learning how to balance or sing can positively impact their confidence. Start by showing your child how to do something and then let them do it themselves but supervise them. It's okay if your baby makes mistakes the first time around, you can always offer feedback once they are done.
Foster your child’s decision making and problem-solving skills with new games, puzzles and educational toys during playtime. Engage with your child and have fun alongside them. Educational toys have a wide range of benefits for your child’s growth.
You can also encourage your baby to explore their surroundings, engage in healthy physical activity and enjoy the outdoors. Investing in an educational toy like a kids' electric car is a fun way to convince your baby to explore the outdoors and connect with their surroundings. Then, there are ride on toys (such as foot to floor ride ons) that encourage physical activity and strengthen your baby’s muscles.
Going outdoors for playtime and exercise also fosters a sense of independent play in very young children. It teaches children the basics of respecting their bodies and the importance of healthy physical activity. Going outdoors and playing with other children can also develop your child’s social skills, which is great for your baby’s esteem.