Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Confidence building in children

What is confidence? In a child, it is in believing that they CAN do it. That it is possible. That while they may fall, they can get up and conquer that bike/task/jigsaw puzzle. And so of all the presents and gifts you can get for your kid, and of all the subjects you can coach him or her for, really the most important thing to impart your kid is confidence.

I had the chance to field a question to Ms. Fiona Walker, the principal director of Julia Gabriel, and my one question was: How to build your kid’s confidence? Her answers were pretty inspiring, so here they are to help you as well!

How to build your child’s confidence?

Avoid making comparisons: No one likes to hear that someone else can do something better. Remember that children all develop at different rates and in different areas. Don’t worry about how they compare to their peers, or siblings. Instead of saying: “Can’t you sit still at the table like your sister?” Try: “Wow, I think you have managed to sit on your bottom for almost the whole of dinner! Well done! Maybe tomorrow you be able to get through the whole meal without getting up, what do you think?”

Try not to undermine his ability: This is especially difficult when we are rushing to go out. It is very easy to say, “Here, why don’t I put your shoes on for you, we have to hurry!” In our busy lives we have to remember children take longer to do things than we do. It may be time saving and more efficient to assist them but it does not develop their independence or confidence in their own abilities.

Establish and follow routines: young children thrive on routine. It helps them to predict what will happen next. This enables them to make sense of their world and develop a sense of security. Once children become familiar with the routine they will become confident that they can order their lives themselves.

Be consistent: Consistency is necessary to develop routines. Consistency in your behaviour and reactions is equally important in developing a confident child. If you are erratic and your reactions often depend on your emotional or physical state then children will take a longer time to develop confidence in what is expected of them and how their behaviour will be received.

Encourage social interaction: Children who have been exposed to a number of social situations and are at ease when with other adults or peers will be more confident than a child who has had little interaction beyond the family circle. For some children a relaxed play date may seem a bit daunting and you may have to initiate games and role-play by being actively involved yourself. This is well worthwhile, as it will encourage the development of the social skills that are closely linked to confidence.

Plan regular exposure to new situations: The more experiences and exposure to new situations you can give to your child the greater his confidence in the world will be. Plan lots of different activities you can do together so there will be no anxiety for your little one. Think of positive experiences in your child’s early years as steps on a ladder, the more you add together the closer he will get to reaching the stars.

Spend quality time together: Take the time to really listen to and connect with your child. All too often we have our hand-phone in one hand and an eye on our email, even when we are pretending to be princesses locked away in a dungeon, or when our children come to us with a sincere question. Without taking the time to really be present with our children we do not validate their opinions, ideas and thoughts. This is necessary for a child to begin to develop a sense of confidence in their self-worth.

(Pssst, time for my shameless plug. If you haven’t heard, I’ve been nominated for the SG Blog Awards for Best Family Blog. Vote for me!)

No comments: