Confidence is the ability to trust or have faith in someone or something, including oneself. Parents hope to raise a confident child who will launch into becoming an independently functioning adult. Less confident children have higher rates of failure-to-launch.
In early stages of life, it is the responsibility of the parents to take a very directive approach to help shape the child’s understanding of right and wrong, and safe versus unsafe situations. If your toddler is carrying around a knife, you don’t have the time to stop them and reason with them about why this might be dangerous. You take the knife, and say something like, “Running with a knife can kill you! What the heck were you thinking? You can hurt yourself or someone else!”
With an adolescent, in order to provide confidence, you have to start taking more time than taking the quickest exit out of the discssuion. You have to reach inside of yourself and find more patience. A patient parent breeds a confident child. Use the skill of appreciative inquiry. You would need to ask the child what his or her thinking is, what is their strategy, so they get their feet wet in learning to think for themselves. Spending 10 minutes querying a child about how they came to a conclusion or why they are choosing to act in a particular way gives them the skill of brainstorming options and opens for them, one or more ways he/she could approach a situation differently.
Here are some tips to help you raise a confident child:
- Be directive with young children and inquiring with adolescents.
- Use Appreciative Inquiry: a gentle form of questioning that slowly “teases” out important information about your adolescent child.
- Have faith that you have done your job well, and give your child the chance to build his or her own confidence through trial and error. As a parent, you know when any error might present grave danger: in which case it is your duty to step in as a parent.
- Refrain from over-praising a child. They will not learn coping skills or resilience if they never have to face adversity.
- Be aware of when your child is demonstrating a false sense of confidence and ask more questions to help the child think more clearly.
- Support your child in exploring numerous resources about any challenge he or she is facing, rather than directly giving them the answers.
Confident children are not perfect children. They are children who know their limits, who are not afraid to fail, and learn from their mistakes.