The temperatures are cooling, the autumn coffee flavors are brewing and those of us who are parents are all settling into our fall routines along with our children with their homework assignments, sports schedules and school events. As always, summer went by way too fast. Your child is easing into his or her schedules and to you they look well-adjusted. But are they? Do they feel confident? Do they like what they see when they look in the mirror? Have enough self-esteem? These are all characteristics that will contribute to your child’s social happiness in the future as they approach adulthood and build their individual self-confidence.
Throughout our children’s lives, they will be exposed to both positive and negative influences. The way they respond to situations will determine the outcome. For example, lack of a healthy self-image can lead to behavioral problems. How well children perform in school and in sports is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves. So what can we do as parents to help them? Here are some ways that we can positively influence our children to become self-confident, well-adjusted kids.
Be A Good Coach- Control your inner helicopter. Doing things for your child instead of letting them do a task robs them of the opportunity to become competent. If your child is having a hard time with an assignment for example, work on the assignment together so they feel a sense of accomplishment when they are finished.
Check Your Own Self-Confidence – Quite contrary to DNA, confidence is acquired, not inherited. Do you say negative things about yourself during the course of a day that your child is hearing? Spend the next week listening to yourself and what you say around your child. They are great imitators of our behavior.
Keep Your Stereotypical Assumptions To Yourself – Don’t assume your daughter will be bad at algebra or your son will want to play football. Nurture their interests by asking them what they are interested in, not what society is assuming will happen.
Children Need Responsibilities – Teaching your children how to cook a meal, or scrub the tub from start to finish is what will not only give them a sense of accomplishment but prepare them for living on their own when they are older. I always say to my son that I am teaching him to be a good husband when he is a grown up. The last thing I need to be doing is raising another man who leaves his underwear on the bedroom floor.
Encourage the Expression of Feelings – This does not mean that temper tantrums are allowed in the grocery store. It implies that your child develops a comfortable balance of how to express their feelings. When your child is upset about something, give them 100% of your focus. It may seem trivial to you but not to them. Try and listen with an open mind and encourage your child to talk about what angers or upsets them. It may be the emotional release they need to move on.
Role Models – Use every opportunity to point out positive role models for your son or daughter. They may be characters in a book, athletes, senators, whoever. Your child will want to aspire to be like them someday or imitate them in someway. My son often imitates his trainer at the gym. This tells me that he looks up to him as a positive role model which puts a smile on my face every time.
Encourage a Health Body Image – Throw the fashion magazines away and explain what the word Photoshop means as soon as they can read. Twiggy was not real, but a mere cartoon character that never made it to the Disney screen tell them. Both girls and boys suffer from body image issues. My son is built like a football player and everywhere we go people tell him that, even strangers. For a while he wanted nothing to do with this image and wanted to be like every other 60 pounder in his class, but after I explained to him that it was a compliment (because every guy wants to look like Dwayne Johnson when they grow up), my gentle giant was ok with it.
Your Child Can Impact the World – One word. Belief. If we teach our children that they can have a positive effect on the world, they will. Believing in themselves is the one thing they need to achieve greatness. Show them how to make a difference in others lives early on will set them up for success as they grow.
It’s our jobs as parents to give our children the tools they need to charge out of the starting gate from the word go. We must control our inner anxiety to control our child and let them explore and discover life on their own. Give them the roots builds their foundations. Let them build the skyscrapers.