I don’t know about you, but I can say for sure that I wasn’t one of those confident kids.
I was shy, and quiet, and a warrior in my mind, but timid deer-in-headlights in real life.
I wasn’t unhappy about it and I wound up being a pretty successful individual in most elements of life (graduate college with honors, scored hot husband, had three kids, did other cool stuff people with confidence do), but I still struggle with things –long list short: speaking in front of people, obsessing over my belly in swimsuits, and thinking people are judging me for things I shouldn’t even care about.
Okay, I totally don’t care about that last one.
There are some things I couldn’t conquer until adulthood, and there are some things that I continue to avoid because my confidence level hasn’t quite achieved I’m-a-boss-lemme-rock-it level. But, time invested in actively choosing joy, seeking to understand my place in the world better, and devoting myself to just being the best person I can be for myself and my family have helped me shed some of that hiding-in-the-corner-because-I-know-people-think-I’m-weird life.
Point is, I’m in a good place now.
As such, I work really hard with The Dudes to ensure they are growing up to be confident kids. I want them courageous, conscious, and able to face humanity without fear or apprehension.
I want them to follow passions, experience beauty, appreciate love, and work hard to get what they believe they deserve. Which, if you ask me, is basically ALL OF THE THINGS.
It is a daily task that involves constant thinking, rethinking, strategizing, and chocolate. Just like basically every single other thing you do in parenting.
Don’t worry, I have some tips.
The Gift of Confidence: How We Build Confident Kids
1. Expect big things. Realistic things. But, realistic BIG things. What big looks like depends on your kid (example: he’s afraid of water but you expect him to learn to swim this summer), but having high expectations for them encourages them to aspire to greatness –whatever greatness means for them. And you have to believe! Don’t tell them you know they can swim across the pool and then toss them in and expect them to drown a little until the lifeguard saves them. Expect big things they can truly achieve with guidance and support (support=love and resources) from you along the way. You want him to swim across the pool? Sign him up for swim lessons, make sure he’s at every one, and then, when he is truly ready, run up the side of the pool cheering your face off as he completes his class graduation swim. And yes, you’re allowed to say I told you so! Confidence will bloom when they know that you know, in your heart of hearts, that they’re capable.
2. Support them through failures. They’re going to have them and they need to know that it’s cool because they’re not deal breakers. You’re still going to think they’re pretty great and you’re still going to believe in them. Kids feel more confident when they know you’re supportive and will still have their backs no matter how well they perform something.
3. Love them for them. You’re crazy if you think I care one bit about Dude Perfect or that Stampy dude, but I sit here and I watch them on YouTube and pretend it’s not the weirdest crap ever. Just like how I suddenly love lacrosse, and soccer, and superhero movies (okay, fine, I kinda always loved those). I encourage The Dudes to be their own people. I don’t want them to be just like me. I don’t require them to believe what I believe. I love that they are who they are and I demonstrate that to them by showing an interest in the things they like. Of course I give them guidance, but that’s just to ensure they remain law abiding, contributing citizens and to help them navigate the world safely. Otherwise, I love that Dude 1 is 1000 times nicer than I am, that Dude 2 is headstrong and outspoken, and that Dude 3 is energetic and vocally self-assured and I support them as they develop those traits.
4. Celebrate their awesome. And I’m not talking about participation trophies (I’m really not for those), I’m talking about celebrating things that they have worked hard to achieve. When they accomplish something that they truly worked for, it’s okay to say you’re proud of them. You can even post it on Facebook if you want.
5. Show them how it’s done. Having my kids has inspired me to become more confident. I want to be confident to show them what it’s like and, at times, I have to use my confidence to fight for them. The last thing I want them to think is that I am some meek chick who can’t stand up for what’s right and for them. They know I’m about that and that I’ve got mean right hook that your throat would hate to meet. Kidding. Sort of. Mostly.