As I look at my beautiful, young daughters, so full of hope and life, I can’t help but wonder what their future holds. Right now, at this moment, they think the world is a pretty wonderful place and they’re right. At 8 and 4, they have their whole lives ahead of them. This great big world is just waiting for them to jump in with both feet, to embrace whatever comes their way.
Gosh! They are so young and innocent, but they are also growing up fast. Before we know it, the teenage years will be upon us. They will no longer be safe in their little unbreakable world where no one could ever hurt them. They will begin to realize that some things, and even some people, may try to bring them down, making them feel unsafe or unsure.
So, I realize that I must teach them both some valuable tools to help them navigate through this beautiful life. I need to empower them, to teach them to have high self-esteem so that they grow into self-assured, confident young women who aren’t afraid to speak their minds, make their own choices and live by their morals.
Here are six ways to raise confident kids:
1. Be their safe place to go.
All kids need to feel safe. Their home environment should be the place where they feel free to express themselves. They should feel safe to be who they are, knowing that they are surrounded by your unconditional love and encouragement. Encourage your kids to talk to you about what is going on in their lives. Because kids won’t often come out and tell you how they’re feeling or if they are dealing with something, you need to create an ongoing dialogue with your kids. And, there is no time like the present to start doing this. Ask them how their day was. If you can tell something is bothering them, and they haven’t brought it up, then just ask them. And then LISTEN to what they have to say, without interrupting. Your kids need to know that you are there for them, no matter what.
2. Give them a voice.
Instead of making all of the decisions for your children, give them a voice. It is important that children become independent by learning to make their own decisions. So, try not to always tell your kids what they should be doing. Give them some choices. Make them feel like they are important, contributing members of your family. Even at a young age, you can introduce choices to your kids. It might be as simple as letting them choose between two shirts to wear that day. As your children get older, try to include them in family decisions. Ask their opinions, whether you plan on following their advice or not. Ask them how they feel about important events that are happening in your family. When they don’t like a decision you’ve made, give them a chance to voice their concerns. Even if you don’t agree, you are teaching your children that they matter. You are teaching them that they count.
3. Teach her that she is beautiful on the inside.
I think my daughters are simply beautiful. But how they look on the outside is not as important as how they feel on the inside. This is especially true as they get older. Self-esteem is so important. Emphasize what your children are good at…what they can excel in. Focusing on their strengths will teach them that they are very unique, talented individuals. Make sure your children know that you think they are amazing. Make sure they believe it about themselves too.
4. Set a good example.
If you want your children to grow into confident, contributing members of society, then you must set an example. Do away with any sort of negative self-talk. It’s important that your children have confident role models. If they notice self-doubt in their parents, then they will have a hard time believing in themselves. So, try to be a positive role model. Teach your children to work hard to get what they want out of life. Show them that if you believe in yourself, then you can achieve anything.
5. Stay involved in their lives.
Get involved in your kids’ lives and stay involved. Make sure you know who their friends are. Find out what they are learning about in school. Get to know their teachers. Give them boundaries, such as curfews. Reward them for good behavior and for being trustworthy. Spend uninterrupted, quality time listening, playing and learning with your kids.
6. Never give up on them!
You may have times in your life where your kids are just impossible to deal with. They may even be downright nasty. Whatever you do, don’t give up on your kids. When children and teens are acting out, that is when they need their parents the most. If every day seems like a struggle lately, perhaps you just need some time away together. Make sure your kids know that you will be there for them no matter what. It could make all of the difference in their future. Just knowing that you will always support them and that your love is unwavering will give them hope that the future will be okay. It might take a while to get things turned around, but hang in there. It will be well worth it in the end.