By: Jeremiah Brown, M.Div., MA, Regional Coordinator
One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is from a scene in the movie Remember the Titans. The quote goes as follows, “Attitude reflect leadership…Captain.” Although much can be said about the topics of attitude and leadership, this quote also directly embraces the subject of confidence. Confidence is an area that many of our children struggle with (let alone, many of us adults). Your child is facing many different sources of influence, and those influences impact how they view themselves. However, as a parent, you have a unique perspective, and an opportunity to instill the confidence your child wants as well as needs. Your position as a leader over your child gives you the opportunity to directly instill in him or her a positive attitude of confidence.
It is important that children and teenagers gain confidence as they grow up. Dr. Neel Burton, MD, suggests that individuals with lower confidence tend to miss out on opportunities and experiences as a result of feeling reluctant to express themselves. This furthermore adds to a negative perspective in seeing the world as a hostile place. It becomes extremely vital that parents use every opportunity to instill confidence in their children in order to help the gain the self-competence needed to navigate growing up.
So how can you boost your son or daughter’s confidence? Here are a few practical ideas that you can begin doing today to help your child:
- Embrace Your Child’s Uniqueness
Your daughter/son is not like any other child. Encourage them to be the unique individual that God has created them to be. Encourage them to take part in things they find interest in, and hold them accountable in following through with those interests until completion.
- Give Your Child Opportunities
Your daughter/son is looking to you to give them a little push in the right direction. They are seeking your permission and guidance on taking healthy risks. Giving them opportunities to explore interests and engage in passions will allow them opportunities to practice and master skills. The practice and mastering of skills will help your child gain a competence which leads directly to increasing confidence.
- Coach Them Up
There is a huge difference in coaching versus critiquing. A coach will come alongside his player, show them what to do and then release them to practice what is taught. A critic stands in front of someone and says “do it this way.” A coach allows his player to fail, and walks alongside him as they learn together. A critic stands behind someone and points out the failure and walks away. Coaches stand on the sidelines and cheer on their team. They understand that their team is the one playing the game, and although the role of the coach is vital, it is the player that actually takes the field. A coach celebrates the wins and gives credit to his players. A critic celebrates the win and takes credit for himself. Your child needs you to coach them, rather than criticize.
- Be Their Cheerleader
Your child needs you to be in their corner, cheering and supporting them. Being a cheerleader is not falsifying praise. Often time as parents we want to encourage and praise our kids on everything. We think they are the best and will always be the best at everything they do. For instance, my 7-year-old son plays baseball. This is only his 2nd year playing, and he has much to learn. He is no Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, or Jake Arietta (Cubs Fan here), but my temptation is to tell him he is great. Can he be great? Absolutely! With plenty of practice and continued support, and that is where I need to be his cheerleader. The reality is that we often diminish the value of our praise in not being authentic. Encouragement and praise is needed and is a must for our children, but it must not be overdone to the point that it becomes ineffective and just another noise in your child’s life.