Right after birth, children start to learn new skills at a fast rate, and as they develop those skills, they also gain the confidence to use them. As children grow older, their confidence in their abilities is just as important as the skills themselves. For children to thrive, they need to be able to trust themselves. At the same time, they need to know that they can handle it, even if they are not successful at something.
It is easy to see when your children feel good about themselves. The idea of feeling good about oneself is often described as self-respect or self-esteem. Everybody wants to know the secrets of how to raise a confident child. However, like many aspects of parenting personality, it is not a ‘one-off’ lesson but rather a culture. It’s essential to understand self-respect as a whole before you can start teaching it to your child.
Attributes of self-esteem
Children with higher self-esteem:
- Feel proud about what they can do
- Believe in themselves
- Feel confident
- Feel accepted and liked
- Think good things about themselves
Children that have low self-respect:
- Lack confidence
- They don’t think they can do things well
- They think about all the times they fail instead of what success will entail
- They’re very hard on themselves
- They’re generally not as happy as other kids
Why is Self-Respect so Important?
Raising a confident child is all about teaching the child to feel good about themselves and take pride in their own ability to do things. Children who have a lot of self-respect are not afraid to take on new challenges, and they are more likely to give their best in whatever they do.
They will also be proud of what they are doing, and whenever they make mistakes, they can deal with them better. It helps them to believe in themselves, which, in turn, allows them to keep trying if they fail in the first go. The importance of self-respect cannot be emphasized enough because it helps them do better in every aspect of their lives. In particular in their social skills.
Children that do not have a lot of self-respect will always be unsure. They think that others might not like them. Children low on self-respect can also have a difficult time standing up for themselves. They might give up easily or not try at all on occasions. Making mistakes, failing, or any other disappointment can be difficult for them to cope with and struggle to bounce back. In turn, they are less willing to take risks. The consequences are pretty clear: they will not be able to fulfill their potential.
How does Self-Respect Develop in the First Place?
Self-respect can start to develop as early as when your child is just an infant. It initially starts to grow by receiving love, care, and support from their family, allowing them to feel valued. They may also get their ideas from reality TV as to what ‘good’ looks like.
When children become toddlers, they can take on some tasks by themselves and feel good about being able to do those things. Their self-respect grows when their parents and others pay them attention, support them when they want to try out things, and when the parents express their pride in the child.
As children grow older, their self-respect can grow or diminish. It all depends on whether or not the key adults around them take the right action. Here we discuss teaching your child how to talk to adults.
Teaching Self-Respect to Your Children
Now, we come to the point where you can learn more about raising a confident child by teaching self-respect to the child. All children are different and respond differently to a variety of methods. For some children, self-respect can come easier in comparison to others. It is not something to worry about because you can change that. Self-respect and confidence can be learned, and you can teach your child, but like with all things, it can take longer with some.
Here are some of the things that you can do as a parent to help your child learn how to feel good about themselves. Often these relate to delayed gratification and a realization that true wellness is not always the easiest option.
Help Your Child Learn New Skills
At every age, your child will always find new things to learn. As infants, they will learn how to hold their feeders, hold a cup, and even crawl and then walk. Raising a confident child can and should start as early as that. Ensure that even at that age, you help them learn and give them a chance to do things themselves.
Don’t baby them too much at school age and let them know that you believe in them. Showing your children that you’re confident about them being able to pull off these tasks will automatically instill a sense of self-belief in them. Allow them time to do the tasks. Packing a school bag can take a long time. Don’t rush them.
Here we have an article on developing the steps to independence in your child.
Demonstrate the Tasks While Teaching Them
Show your children how to do the tasks first, and then let them try them out independently. It does not matter if they make mistakes. It matters that they try. Be sure that your child gets the proper opportunity to learn, try things out, and feel proud about doing them. Just make sure you don’t make the new tasks too easy or too hard based on their abilities.
Praise Their Efforts
Positive reinforcement can do wonders for children, and it is a major part of teaching self-respect to your children. Of course, you need to make sure that you don’t go overboard with the praises since that can backfire.
Instead of telling your child he did a good job tying the laces when he clearly couldn’t, you can go for something more wholesome. Tell your child that you know that they could not do it as well as they wanted to, but you’re proud of them for trying their best. Let them know that they can definitely get it right the next time around.
This also means that you should praise their efforts as well. Sometimes, a child will not be able to fulfill tasks. Instead of focusing solely on the results for praise, divert your attention towards the effort that they put in.
Nothing Better Than Role Models
When you take on your own day-to-day tasks, you should set a good example for them to follow. Seeing you work so hard for the things you have to do will encourage the child to work hard on their own tasks. Exhibiting a positive attitude while putting effort into these tasks will influence your child as well.
Be Gentle with Your Criticism
Keeping in mind that not all children are the same, you need to understand that the tasks that come easily to them might not be easy for others and vice versa. It can become a real test of your patience to teach your child the simplest of things, but you need to keep your composure intact at all times. In frustration, we have all compared siblings. However, there are many things my children can do that I can’t. It is not fair to make comparisons of each other.
Completely ban the use of harsh criticism. The things that other people say to them about themselves really affect how children will feel about themselves growing up. Saying something like “You’re stupid” might not carry much weight for adults, but for a child, that can have lasting effects. Harsh criticism is harmful, not motivational. I am sure we all have flashbacks to comments said in haste but long forgotten by the other person.
Teaching self-respect to your children also has a lot to do with teaching some patience and understanding to yourself. Correct your children for the mistakes they make with a cool and calm temperament. Applaud them for trying and show them how they should do it next time around. Repeat this as many times as necessary.
Let Them Help
Teaching self-respect to your children also entails that you show them your confidence in them. If they ever express their curiosity and they say that they want to help you out with your tasks, never refuse them outright. Whenever you know they can help, welcome their efforts and show them appreciation. This will also teach them that what they do will matter to others, which boosts their self-belief.
Let them help out at home or help out their siblings, which can work wonders for their self-esteem. Encourage their curiosity. Curiosity is linked to the development of self-confidence and other important qualities as Paul Tough writes in his book “How Children Succeed.”
Play to Their Strengths
As the child grows older, there will always be some things that the child will excel at and perform poorly in others. Pay attention to what your child can do well and, more importantly, what your child enjoys doing. Help them develop their strengths. If your child is weak in something, help them strengthen it but focus more on their strengths. That can help them feel good about themselves. There are core things that all must be able to do, such as organize themselves. But if your child does not enjoy soccer, let them try other things till they find something they enjoy. They are not going to play in the World Cup so let them find something they can enjoy and gain confidence in.
Final Thoughts on Teaching Self-respect to Your Children
Let your child know that win or lose, and you love them a lot. It does not matter if their grades were not high enough. It hurts, but if they have tried their hardest, they cannot do much else. Here are some final takeaways:
- Make your child feel special. It is essential to let your children explore, take healthy risks and learn their unique talents and qualities. Let them know that they should value their strengths.
- Set achievable goals for them, teach them to work towards those goals, and take pride in their accomplishments. Give them more opportunities to succeed. If they make beans on toast, congratulate them. Nobody makes Christmas dinner as their first meal!
- Lastly, you need to let them know that failure is a part of life. If they cannot do something right on the first go, they should try again. Encourage them to keep trying, do things their own way, and take on challenges.
- Share your own doubts and failures. Our children look around and see success everywhere. They see people succeeding on TV, computer games are designed to be easy, and they see classmates going up in assembly. They might look at us and see us do things ‘easily.’ If we highlight our errors, it will ensure failure, and therefore having to try again is seen as common and usual.