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Rebecca Nicholas, chiropractor and clinic director of Back 2 Balance, writes this blog to help parents increase their children’s confidence and self belief. She has a special interest in pregnancy and paediatric care, and enjoys reading around the subject extensively.

 

“Children who grow up with positive parenting are more likely to develop the skills they need to do well at schoolwork, build friendships and feel good about themselves, says Professor Matt Sanders (clinical psychologist and co-founder of the Triple P programme).

They are also much less likely to develop behavioural or emotional problems when they get older. Similarly, parents who use positive parenting skills feel more confined and competent about managing day-to-day family life. They are also less stressed, less depressed and have less conflict with their partners over parenting issues.”

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One parenting blog (www.parents.com) gave these suggestions to help improve the confidence in your children…..

  • Consider compliments– i.e. don’t just say you are amazing at everything! Children don’t need to be lied to, and need to know when they have actually done something truly remarkable. Being truthful and selective in your compliments allows the child to know when they are performing well and when they are not- an important quality going into adulthood.
  • Don’t rescue your child– They learn to succeed by overcoming obstacles, not by having you remove them. “It’s particularly important for young children to have the chance to play and take risks without feeling that their parents will criticize or correct them for doing something wrong,” says Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD, professor of psychology at Temple University, in Philadelphia.
  • Let them make decisions– this links with the last tip on not rescuing your child. As a small child, don’t give them too many choices, but let them decide out of a couple of options. E.g. here are 2 outfits, which one would you like to wear today? or, shall we have fish or chicken today for dinner? or, which vegetables shall we cook for the evening meal?
  • Focus on the glass half full– children learn from their parents so try to be optimistic yourselves. If a negative event has happened then try to look at any positives or learning experiences that have come out of it.
  • Nurture their special interests. Children who have talents in a particular thing ie sport, could potentially neglect activities that they are not so good at ie academics. Encouragement of talents whilst being supportive in the other activities can promote overall self-confidence. Recognize your child’s special talents, and help build on them.
  • Promote problem solving– “Kids are confident when they’re able to negotiate getting what they want,” says Myrna Shure, PhD, author of Raising a Thinking Child. Her research has found that you can teach even a young child how to solve problems herself. The key is to bite your tongue.
  • Look for ways to help others. This is generally an important quality to have full stop, but for children, reaching out to others promotes confidence in talking to people and opening up to people in need.
  • Find opportunities for them to spend more time with adults– Research has also shown that having a close relationship with a particular grown-up — a teacher, an uncle, a babysitter, or a friend’s parent — makes children more resilient.
  • Fantasise about the future and thinking about making your own goals and ambitions a reality can foster belief in themselves to succeed.

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Dr Sears, a renowned paediatrician and author recommends the further follows ideas to increase a child’s confidence. We have several books that he has penned in the clinic library so feel free to sign and borrow them.

1) Parents are the main source of a child’s sense of self-worth. Lack of a good self-image very often leads to behaviour problems. Heal your past by looking at what your parents did right or wrong (don’t be overly harsh on them!) and then focus on implementing those good things that they did. Polish your mirror- parents’ unhappiness can transfer onto the child. The child looks to you as a mirror for their feelings. BUT be realistic, children can sense fake happiness! They do need to know that it is normal to occasionally have down days. You being sensitive and in tune with each other promotes healthy emotions.

2) Playing with your children. You will learn a lot about your child—and yourself—during play. Playtime gives your child the message “You are worth my time. You are a valuable person.” It is well known that children learn through play. It improves a child’s behaviour by giving him feelings of importance and accomplishment. Instead of viewing playtime as a chore, use it to make an investment in your child’s behaviour. Let your child initiate the play. Make the child feel special. Consider it an investment in both your child’s development and in yours too.

3) Address your child by name. Addressing your child by name, especially when accompanied by eye contact and touch, exudes a “you’re special” message. Beginning an interaction by using the other person’s name opens doors, breaks barriers, and even softens corrective discipline. Children learn to associate how you use their name with the message you have and the behaviour you expect.  A school-age child who is comfortable addressing adults by name will be better able to ask for help when needed. Loose labels like asthmatic; clown; silly. Every child searches for an identity and, when found, clings to it like a trademark. We see this in the clinic, when every conversation a client has with friends, relatives, the next door neighbour, focuses on their back pain or their depression or some sort of aliment. Do not let this define you, and in this context, don’t let it define a child.

4) Set your child up to succeed. Beware of value-by-comparisons. Children measure their own value by how they perceive others value them. And in our measuring-and-testing society, children’s skills—and therefore their value—are measured relative to others. She must know that your love for her does not depend on your approval of her performance. Have a ‘wall of fame’ for things that your children do well at.

5) Help your child to be home wise. Screen their friends. Keep a kid friendly home. Also monitor school influences on your child. Schools can be hazardous to a child’s emotional health. School choice (if you have one) needs to be carefully considered. Around age six, when your child begins elementary school, other adults become influential in her life. These are people who are around your child enough to influence her behaviour and model values. Once upon a time persons of significance in a child’s life came primarily from within the extended family, but in today’s mobile society a child is likely to have a wider variety of peers and persons of significance. This means that today’s parents need to be vigilant as to who is modelling what behaviour to their children.

6) Give your child responsibilities. Children need jobs. One of the main ways children develop self- confidence and internalize values is through helping maintain the family living area, inside and out. Giving children household duties helps them feel more valuable, besides channelling their energy into desirable behaviour and teaching skills. Starting between ages two and four, a child can learn the concept of responsibility to self and to parents and for his personal belongings. Once he learns a sense of responsibility for these things, a sense of responsibility to society will come naturally in the next stage of development. By seven, a child can be cooking at least one meal a week from start to finish. Teach him how to fix his favourite meal and let him learn how to pick out the ingredients at the market. Encourage school-age children to make their own lunch. Besides giving them a sense of responsibility for their own nutrition, they are more likely to eat what they make. A top tip- call a job “special” and it’s more likely to get done.

7) Encourage children to express, not supress their feelings. Expressing feelings comfortably does not mean the child is free to explode at every emotional twinge, but rather develops a comfortable balance between expressing and controlling feelings. A person who never expresses emotions becomes too reserved. Too much control or too much emoting will both produce problems in adult life.

 

So…..what do you as parents think? Any tips you think we should add? What did your parents do that helped foster confidence and self belief? Share your pearls of wisdom please.