We all want our children to be happy, confident and resilient, and grow up to be responsible, self-assured and fulfilled adults.
However how do we achieve this when the research shows that stress and anxiety in children is on the increase, which has a significant impact on their confidence, self-esteem and resilience?
The increasing pace of modern life, overstimulation from improved technology, continual rushing and constant pressure to perform has created a world which is chaotic and stressful for both parents and their children.
Add to that the impact of the worldwide Covid pandemic and the resulting fear and uncertainty about the future, can lead to children also feeling unsafe.
The pressure on parents to help their children navigate the challenges of the modern world is immense. Did you know that children are born with two basic needs, to feel safe and to feel loved?
Obviously as they grow older, other needs such as feeling connected to others, being able to express themselves, be listened to, understood and acknowledged, and develop their unique skills and capabilities also become important.
As parents you can support your children to become the best version of themselves by understanding and assisting them to further develop the 7 traits of confident children.
1. Openness and curiosity. We know that children are born curious, you only need to talk to a 3 year old who’s favourite word is ‘why’ to realise that all children are naturally open and curious about the world around them. As parents we can sometimes unknowingly become frustrated and ‘shut down’ this curiosity by given too simple explanations.
You can encourage your child’s curiosity and openness by making learning something new fun and exciting, no matter what age your child is. You can also ask them questions that promote their curiosity.
2. Self-Belief/Self Esteem. When children are very young we constantly praise them for their achievements, particularly when they smile at us for the first time, or take their first steps. However, it’s easy to forget how important this continues to be as they grow older.
Make sure you look for opportunities to praise your child for their abilities or behaviours, not their characteristics. Saying ‘good girl’ or ‘good boy’ isn’t as effective as saying, “thanks for unstacking the dishwasher for me, that was really helpful” which reinforces a positive and specific behaviour.
3. Self- Discipline/Perseverance. Children who have self-discipline are able to self regulate and manage their emotions effectively, choosing to forgo immediate gratification, and also able to control impulsive behaviour. They can make good choices regardless of how they feel.
Encourage your child to preserve or complete an activity which will help to instil an ability to persist even when ‘the going gets tough’.
4. Courage/Risktaking. This is often a more difficult area for parents as we all want to protect our children from harm and hurting themselves. Finding the balance between protecting them from obvious dangerous risks, while supporting and encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone and trying new things is important.
Having assessed and minimised any potential dangerous risks, allow your child to decide whether the goal or challenge is something they believe they can achieve.
5. Honesty. Children model the behaviour of their parents, so this is a trait that needs to be consistent in order for children to learn its importance. Teaching children to be honest means they will also learn about dealing with consequences and to be resilient.
Make it safe for your children to tell the truth no matter how difficult it may be for them.
6. Kindness/ Empathy. Like honesty, this trait is one of the easiest for parents to model and teach their children. We can show our children in practical ways how to be respectful of others, as well as become more aware of how their own behaviour impacts others.
From an early age, teach your children how to share with others, to show gratitude and appreciation, as well as how to be able to ‘see things’ from someone else’s perspective.
7. Resilience. One of the most important traits to teach our children is how to ‘bounce back’ from difficult situations or events. Unfortunately resilience is something that can’t be taught without actually experiencing difficult situations.
Don’t rush to protect your child from every difficult situation they encounter, but show them how to work out a solution for themselves whenever possible.
While there are so many different aspects and challenges of parenting, focusing on the seven traits and some key actions you can take to encourage and support your children will help them to become the happy and confident kids they are meant to be.