Positive Parenting - How to Build Self Confidence in Children

Improve your child's chances in life with positive parenting. Building self confidence in children provides the strongest psychological foundation for them. As a parent or carer of young people, you have the opportunity to make a real, positive difference to the child in your hands and the adult they will become.

The positive parenting tips on this page will help you learn what to do to build child self confidence. First though, a little background information so you'll understand the basis for them....

There are two particularly important stages in a child's development where the quality of the experience may be reflected in their adult life. These apply to both daughters and sons and I shall use 'he' and 'she', 'him' and 'her' interchangeably.

Roots of Confidence in Infancy

A baby's life depends totally on those caring for her. Let's face it, an infant has very little to offer beyond a windy smile and loads of washing! If she receives sufficient milk, comfort and love to meet her individual needs, it's not for what she can give. The child grows in the belief that she is loved purely for being herself and is more likely to feel secure as an adult. Her trust in the outer world will also have been established.

Where the needs of the child have not been sufficiently met, a shaky self image can develop and the adult she becomes may have doubts about being lovable, attractive, valuable or important. This in turn creates issues of low esteem and self confidence.

Establishing a Good Foundation

Positive parenting in the earliest days means trying to meet baby's needs. Listen to cries for food, comfort etc. and respond within a reasonable time. Of course babies can also cry apparently for no reason. You can only do your best to see that hunger, thirst, dirty nappies, or tiredness are attended to. After that, you can offer a cuddle, soothing sounds, rocking, and perhaps wrapping up firmly so he feels secure until sleep comes.

Even though you won't be able to make everything right all of the time, your child will tend to grow up with a general expectation that the world is a friendly place. Continue to listen in a non-judgemental way as your child grows and his trust in you and the world will be reinforced. His confidence will flourish.

Positive parenting is being calm around your child. If you are stressed or nervous she will sense this and become agitated. Do what you can to relax and increase your own comfort. Click here for tips on relaxation.

Growth of Self Belief

The second tricky stage occurs in early childhood when he is becoming more independent by perhaps helping to clothe himself or erecting towers with building bricks. Ideally, the child will receive sufficient praise and encouragement to affirm his efforts and developing skills. In this way positive parenting establishes a feeling of competence and belief in his own abilities, and feeds self esteem.

When a child is unable to win sufficient praise or approval from significant others he is likely to develop a less positive image of himself and his capability. As an adult he may lack the confidence to achieve, or fail to experience appropriate pride when he does succeed. In consequence, his belief in himself and esteem will suffer.

Helping your Child to Independence

Positive parenting is about praising your child. As an adult you may feel that building a house out of Lego is easy and not particularly earth-moving, but as a development of your child's skills, this represents important progress and it needs to be recognised and acknowledged through praise by you.

You might not be used to giving praise and it can feel strange to do so. This may be because you did not receive much of it yourself as you grew up. Indeed you may feel uncomfortable when people praise you now. If this is the case, you'll need to practise praising yourself as well as your child and others. Then it will get easier. Find out more about the power of what you say to yourself by clicking here.

Positive parenting also means giving your children the opportunity to make choices. Don't make your child feel she is wrong for liking something you don't, or preferring something different to you. Affirming her tastes and respecting her opinion when these are different from your own, honours her uniqueness as an individual.

Don't Criticise

This does not mean: don't guide, use appropriate discipline or set boundaries. Firmness and guidance are part of positive parenting. They are important for the child's sense of security and his development of appropriate behaviour. It is criticism of a child's person or ability that is damaging to his self esteem and confidence.

I once heard a mother commenting on her 3-4 year old daughter's drawing of a house. She pointed out that houses did not look like that, the windows were the wrong shape, the door too tall. The child was completely deflated, all joy and pride in achievement gone.

What a pity the mother could not have acknowledged her child's creativity and self expression, and found something positive to comment upon. This type of negative response does nothing to build child self confidence and, if repeated often enough, will undermine the future adult.

At a sports day in junior school I observed a man grab his young son at the end of a race and berate him for not coming first. The fact that the lad had run really hard and come a close second was completely ignored. That boy may be spending the rest of his life competing and trying to prove his worth, yet never feeling good enough.

Honesty and Clear Communication

Positive parenting includes honesty and good communication which establishes a strong sense of security and trust. Many people say one thing and demonstrate another. For example, if someone says to you "I like what you are wearing" but they are frowning and their voice sounds unenthusiastic, you are not likely to believe them. It also creates an uncomfortable feeling and leads you to wonder why that person is hiding the truth from you.

Children are no different. Even though they are young, they will know intuitively when you give out mixed messages. It is confusing to them and they will not know whether they should mistrust you (very hard for a child to mistrust their parent) or mistrust their own instincts. Either way, this is injurious to general trust and confidence.

Learn more about communication and how to communicate with confidence by clicking here. Address your Own Confidence Issues

Finally, most of us could be MORE confident than we are. Why not take a look at other parts of this site where you'll find lots of tips and information to help you boost YOUR self confidence.

It can be very effective to work at increasing your own confidence alongside positive parenting. As you grow in self confidence using the techniques on this site, you will also be modelling confidence to your child.

Return from Positive Parenting to Home Page