Experts tell us to raise a confident child there are key steps. A child needs to feel that she matters to someone and that they are special. Children also need to feel competent. I never felt comfortable telling my children they were special because I felt that would teach them that they were better than others. For my children to be special it would mean other children were not special. I had seen these special children in their adult manifestations and it wasn’t pretty. It’s called the me, me, me generation. My thinking was that I wanted my children to be part of a community, a community of caring. I reconciled this making your children feel special directive by saying, “You are special to me.”
Children don’t have the luxury of accessing the analytical part of their brains to understand our words. They deal in the here and now, the sensory. We can best help our children feel they matter and that they are special through our day to day interactions. After playing with your child, look him in the eye, smile and say, “I really had fun playing monster trucks with you today.” Or, “Wow, we really build a great rocket boat. This was fun.”
The next key step is for your child to feel competent. Your child needs to feel she is good at something. Some children will be good at academics, but some will not. Some children will be good at sports, art, writing, etc. But every child needs to be successful at something, and as parents we need to provide that opportunity for success.
Competence comes from thinking. “I can do this.” You can help by being a coach for your child, not controlling or doing everything for him. Let your child try, don’t jump in and do it for him. Offer encouragement along the way. Judiciously offer to help or get her to the next step of the task. Let her make mistakes, praise effort and perseverance over product. Most importantly, do not expect perfection. I overheard a classroom teacher say, “Practice makes progress,” and that has become my new mantra with all children.