Building Confident Kids
Some kids are just born confident. From the time they’re toddlers, it seems that difficulties just roll of their backs. Other kids seem to be constantly second-guessing themselves, even from a young age. They may be nervous to try new things, or they may take criticism so hard that they’re unable to recover from it.
There’s good news, however. According to Dr. Suzanne Reiffel and Dr. Erica Ross, two clinical psychologists who are founders of Tool Kits for Kids® and have been practicing for over 25 years each, say even children who are not born confident can develop the skills that they need to gain confidence and maintain it.
As adults, we might take confidence for granted. For kids, however, confidence is key. “Confidence helps you learn how to adapt to living in the world,” says Reiffel. “Confident children are able to try new things, meet and adapt to other people, and deal with mistakes when something bad happens. It overrides every party of functioning for kids – social aspects, academics, the feelings that they have about themselves, and of course, how they react to bullying and peer pressure.”
High levels of confidence have been linked to better academic functioning and better social skills. But just telling your child “Good job!” or “You’re a star!” doesn’t build self-confidence. “Think of the ‘self’ in self-confidence,” says Ross. “It’s the child’s own viewpoint that matters.” Sounds easy, right? But as a parent, how can you build up your child’s confidence?
Reiffel and Ross have helped to create the Charge Up Your Confidence Tool Kit for Kids®, in which they provide activities and guidance that can build a child’s confidence. Here are a few of the tips that they have found work best:
· Help your child focus on her individual strengths, on what is special about her. These attributes can bolster your child when she encounters difficulties. For example, your child might like to play basketball, to draw, to take care of her baby brother, or to be nice to animals. Notice that none of these strengths are things that they are “the best” at, or even things that they have succeeded in. They are positive attributes that make them who they are.
· Encourage your child to make a goal and succeed in it. For example, your child’s goal might be to learn how to ride a two wheeler or to build up the confidence to jump off the diving board. But rather than letting these successes fade into memories, do something to help your child remember the effort that he put in and how proud of himself he was when he succeeded. You may want to suggest that your child write down these memories on sticky notes and hang them up on the side of his bed so that he can see them often.
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