Already from birth children acquire new skills at the speed of light. Together with these new capabilities they also acquire the self-confidence to apply them.
As they grow older, this self-confidence can be just as important as the skills themselves. To flourish, children have to be able to rely on their own capabilities, while at the same time knowing that they will in some instances have to handle not being successful. Self-confidence develops as they master skills and learn to bounce back from failure.
Following are 12 ways in which you can empower your children and help them get the best out of their skills and talents.
As parent you have to exude self-confidence. Even it you don’t feel like it! To observe how you tackle new tasks with optimism and the right amount of preparation, sets them a good example. This does not mean you have to pretend you are perfect. Acknowledge your anxiety and don’t focus on it – focus on the positive things that you can do to prepare you for the task.
Don’t get upset about mistakes. Help children to realise that everyone makes mistakes and that the most important thing is to learn from them and not dwell on them. Self-confident people don’t allow fear of failure to stand in their way – not because they are certain they won’t fail, but because they know how to handle setbacks.
Encourage them to try new things. Instead of concentrating all their energy on what they already excel in, it does children good to learn new skills. It empowers them to be confident that they can tackle anything.
Allow children to fail. It is natural to want to protect your child against failure, but trying and erring is how children learn. To sometimes not achieve a goal helps children discover that it’s not the end of the world. It could encourage them to put in more effort, which will serve them well as adults.
Praise perseverance. Learning to not give up after the first frustration or to run away after one setback is an important life skill. Confidence and self-image are not about always succeeding in everything, it’s about being resilient enough to keep on trying, and to not get upset if you aren’t the best.
Help children find their passion. To explore their own interests can help children to develop a feeling of identity – something that is essential to build self-confidence.
Set goals. Help your child to convert her desires and dreams into practical goals by encouraging her to make a list of things she would like to achieve. Then practise breaking up long-term interests into realistic benchmarks. In this way you empower her interests and help her to master skills which she will need all through her life to reach her goals.
Celebrate attempts. It is wonderful to praise children for their achievements, but it is also important to let them know you are proud of their efforts, regardless the outcome. It requires hard work to develop new skills and results aren’t always immediate.
Expect them to contribute their share. Children feel more committed and valued if they are counted upon to do age-appropriate work – from picking up toys to washing dishes to taking care of younger brothers and sisters (even if they complain about it). Homework and extramural activities are important but the feeling that they are needed by their family is of inestimable value.
Embrace imperfection. Help your children realise that the idea that others are always happy, successful and perfectly dressed is unrealistic. Remind them that it is human and quite in order to be less than perfect.
Set them up for success. Challenges are good for children, but it should also be opportunities during which they can be sure of their success. Allow your child to become involved in activities that make him feel comfortable and self-confident enough to be able to tackle a bigger challenge.
Show your love. Let your child know he is important to you and that you love him, regardless of what he does and achieves – whether he wins or loses a big match, obtains good or bad marks and even when you are angry with him.