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HELPING CHILDREN FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES
Self-esteem, confidence and happiness are essential qualities that children need in order to become self-assured adults. So how do we encourage our children to fulfill their potential and grow to become happy and confident adults?
In Confident Children, Gael Lindenfield gives practical advice covering the range of issues that relate to children's confidence and self-esteem. She provides advice to help your children to develop confidence at home, at school, with friends and for the future. Here are Gael's 8 'nutrients' children need to grow up with confidence:
It's not just quantity but excellent quality that is important. Children need to be loved consistently and unconditionally. For the development of lasting self-esteem, they must feel that they are valued for who they actually are, rather than what they could be or what others would like them to be.
Fear and anxiety are perhaps the greatest enemies of confidence. Children who are constantly worried that their basic needs won't be met, or that their emotional or physical world may be blown apart at any minute, will find it very difficult to develop a positive outlook. When children feel secure, they will automatically try to develop their potential through responding to challenges and by taking interesting risks.
Teaching through example is by far the most effective way to help children develop confidence. People often ask me if they are likely to pass on their fears and anxieties to their children. I'm afraid the answer is yes, unless a strong countering influence from another adult figure is consistently experienced.
To develop the confidence to relate to 'all sorts', children need to experience a wide range of relationships, from the close intimate ones usually found at home through to the more superficial ones with, for example, bus drivers and shop assistants. Through relationships, children also build up self-awareness and self-knowledge, which are vital ingredients of inner confidence.
In order to make the best use of our strengths and talents we need health and energy! We know, for example, that children who are undernourished cannot learn as effectively and are therefore unable to use their full potential. We also know that children 'bloom' when they are in good health - and in our society there is no doubt that good-looking children are likely to receive more morale-boosting compliments, attention and even opportunities.
Perhaps the children of our ancestors in caves did not need money or material resources in order to help them develop confidence, but we now live in an increasingly complex world. Wrong though it may be, children who have plenty of access to resources such as books, toys, musical instruments, sports facilities and travel certainly have a advantage over those whose options are more restricted. Such resources are not, of course, essential to the development of a core of either inner or outer confidence, but used well and appropriately they can certainly give both a powerful boost.
Of course it is not enough to have resources alone, children need encouragement and guidance too. They need people who are 'rooting' for them to become more confident and skilful, people who will give them honest, constructive feedback both when they are doing well and when they are failing. Support also is an essential factor in helping children heal from any knocks to confidence that are experienced along the way. For example, a rejection by a friend or a failed exam can dent a child's self confidence - but for how long will depend very much on the kind of support that surrounds the child.
Although the process of developing confidence (like any other sort of learning) can in itself be exciting and rewarding, sometimes it most certainly is not. Rewards for efforts and achievements while on the road to our more distant goals are often essential, even for the most driven of children. Children who receive regular and ample 'fruits' for their efforts, are far more likely to retain their natural appetites for personal challenges and goals than those who do not.
© 2006 Thorsons
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