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Helping Kids Grow in Confidence

Posted by Jen on December 30, 2009 at 7:00 AM in Kid problems
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Wishing your kids could be more confident and self-sufficient in 2010? Confidence is something I hope I'm building into my kids everyday. Here are some things I know that work, along with some ways I know that my kids need to grow in this area in 2010.

Celebrate tiny accomplishments.  Make it a point to notice when your kids are making an effort to tackle a new task like pouring a drink or (as in happening in the next room as I type!) learning how to use a can opener.  These little risks add up to big confidence when your child can claim mastery.  Madeleine is ready for some more grown-up tasks in the house and I know my acknowledgement of that will improve her sense of self.

Let your kids grow in their own time.  Nothing hurts confidence more than being pushed to do something you aren't quite ready to tackle just yet.  It's okay to follow your kid's cues when making decisions about what's next on the learning agenda--don't let anyone else's timetable sway you. I know for me, I tend to push my kids harder than they're capable of going. This year in some arenas, at least, I know I need to step back.

Trust your own intuition.  If you're full of self-doubt, your kids will be too.  Practice trusting your intuition and following it wisely.  Your example can make a powerful difference--even if you can only trust yourself a little bit at a time.  The point is to model for your kids that confidence in your own point of view. I worked on this hard in 2009 and I still have a long way to go.

Sample new foods. Fear is a major factor that keeps all of us back from new experiences. The restaurant table is a perfect place to learn the art of taking risks, trying new things and finding out it won't hurt you to find out what works for you and what doesn't. Carter needs the nudge of confidence in the food department and this year, he's going to get it!

Let your kids cook with you more.  My kids are old enough now to make simple snacks, but I haven't been willing to teach them how to do it. I think by allowing them more space (and instruction) in the kitchen we'll build confidence in both directions--my ability to trust them and their ability to trust themselves. Which brings me to this next point.

Trust them.  Nothing communicates confidence more than trust.  I'll be looking for ways to demonstrate my trust--can you bring in the mail, please?  I'm waiting for an important bill--and act on it.  When we monitor our own fear and let our children be as capable as they really are, deep confidence will follow.

What one focus would you pick for your kids this year? Is confidence the thing or something else? Do you have tips on how to help confidence grow? I'd like to hear it all in the comments below.


Gabbi writes...

This is a great article. I find myself doing things for my kids just because it is easier adn faster if I do it myself. So this year, my goal will be to slow down and let my kids do things.

My 11 yo daughter took a cooking class and I am amazed at how competent she is in the kitchen now.


Merceditas writes...

This is a wonderful article. A reminder and has helpful suggestions too. My daughter is approaching her 21st month and already, she's curious about what we do and prepare in the kitchen. Soon as I pick her up and show her what's going on, she's captivated and becomes less agitated. The supplemental article recommended by Tina was also helpful. Thank you so much! I find slowing down is difficult but helpful in my practice of self-awareness. Don't you just love watching your kid/kids grow?

Simone writes...

We installed a sheet of whiteboard paper on one of the walls in the living room for my daughter's 2nd birthday. I always accompanied her when she drew on it, telling her that she must "stay on the paper." Recently, I've been letting her go over and draw on her own while I continue at my computer (I work from home on a news and fashion blog). I wanted to trust her to remember -- and she did! Not only that, her drawings are more creative without me looking over her shoulder. Now, after awhile, I go over to see how she's doing and praise her artwork and the fact that it is all "on the paper"!

Holly writes...

This article is very informative and much appreciated! I must say that it is my goal as well for 2010 to follow your message of "Letting Children Grow in their own Time".
My three year old daughter was very specific that she did not want to grow up and leave her diapers behind. I felt as though I had failed in teaching her this task, then I realized I must let her do it in her own time. Sure enough, two nights ago she announced, "Momma, is it okay if I don't want to wear my diaper?"
What an amazing accomplishment, I can't even express how proud I am. She made a decision all by herself!
Thank you for your personal and inspirational advice! Good luck in 2010!

kate writes...

Great article, thank you. The suggestion to use tasting new foods for a basis of gaining confidence is really interesting.

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