“Something I know about people… is that if they do it once, they will do it again.” Anonymous
Raising a child takes time, emotional stability, planning, consistency, and creativity. Observing your child’s behaviors regularly can be a good measure of how they view their value and the words they utilize to express their thoughts and feelings -including their dreams, goals, worries, fears, and everyday reflections.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines confidence as a feeling of consciousness of one’s powers or reliance on one’s circumstances.
In the next paragraph, we will explore behaviors that can be observed in children starting as early as the age of three and moving upward in their development to the age of seventeen.
First Sign: Your child speaks their thoughts and emotions easily and without fear of getting into trouble. Children who do not feel comfortable sharing specific thoughts and feelings are more likely to harbor, then act out those feelings. For example, seeking negative attention, using words like “can’t,” “I don’t know,” “I’m stupid,” or “no one likes me.”
Second Sign: Your child is unafraid to share their thoughts and feelings about how you influence their sense of self. When children are raised to believe their words have value and are important, that also allows them to articulate their experiences about you and with you. One of the most evident signs that your child does not feel safe is their hesitancy to speak their mind, for example, repeatedly checking in with a caregiver by looking their way for approval or more significant behaviors like stuttering.
Third Sign: Your child can have discussions about the consequences of their actions with you, such as time outs, removal of privileges, or not being able to participate in scheduled activities. Children who shy away from sharing their perceptions about the consequences are likelier to express feelings related to that lack of clarity rather than talk about it. For example, they are engaging in tantrums, blaming others, slamming doors, crying uncontrollably, or slouched or rigid body language and posture.
Fourth Sign: Your child can talk to their peers about their ideas for fun and games that include personal boundaries. A child who can stand up for themselves among peers demonstrates that mom/dad/caregiver has given them the green light to learn their value and how to communicate that when the caregiver is not around to protect them. Children who demonstrate a reluctance to stand up for themselves (think stopping someone from taking advantage of them or speaking down to them) indicate a child who may have learned in the home setting that their words and needs do not count. Or, despite the caregiver teaching the child their needs are important, the child may have learned to rely on the caregiver to resolve conflict, stifling their confidence to do this without parental intervention.
Fifth Sign: Your child is willing to try new things. A child who is open and receptive to taking the chance or initiative to learn a new skill demonstrates that they can manage the emotional discomfort we all experience when learning a new skill. A child who ‘gives up’ or refrains from this vulnerability may indicate that they have limited confidence in risking this temporary discomfort (perhaps out of fear of humiliation, ‘looking’ stupid, being criticized, or failure) for the benefit of growing and developing in other areas outside of their comfort zone.
Here are a few suggestions you can try as a parent to increase your child’s confidence:
1. Listen to your child when they express their thoughts and feelings and not necessarily problem-solve for them. Most of the time, kids want to be heard and understood. For example, “That must feel crappy,” or “I get misunderstood or not liked.”
2. Give your child choices like, “You can have five more minutes to complete your video game or five more minutes to add to bath time/storytime/coloring time,” etc.
3. Teach your child the difference between expressing their feelings and needs via aggression versus assertiveness. For example, aggression would look like, “Give me back my toy, or I will break yours.” Versus assertiveness, “If you don’t give me back my toy, we will not play this game again,” and then walking away to engage in another activity with another friend or solo.
4. Do not run to the rescue to solve your child’s problems if the issue is age-appropriate for them to solve on their own. For example, “What do you think is the best solution,” or “How does it feel to go with this option A versus option B?”
Confidence can be creative, fun, and explorative, and when encouraged enough times, it sticks! You can always find us at 954-903-1676 for counseling services.