- Published on Tuesday, 09 November 2010 14:50
Submitted by Sarah Thacker
This morning my girl left the house with an awesome outfit: A Swim Team t-shirt, yellow capri's and knee high purple argyle socks. I thought, "Huh. She might get made fun of in that outfit." Then I thought, "She won't care." And she won't.
From the time Sydney was a little girl, she has oozed self-confidence as evidenced in the pictures below. In the first picture, she was about three and had pink florescent blush all over her face. She had also done her own hair. She marches to the beat of her own drummer, with her shoulders back, and an awesome self-confident attitude. This morning I started to think about where that came from. I'd like my other kids and frankly, all kids, to have as much self-confidence as she does.
Part of Sydney's self confidence is probably inherited. My husband is very self-confident, not in a gross way, but in a "I'm fine with who I am and I don't care what you think" kind of way. It's actually quite refreshing and he has helped me not care about what other people think so much.
What can we do as parents to help our children (both biological and adopted) be confident?
- Help them role-play being self confident in situations where they may not feel confident. Last year Sydney was struggling in an area of math and she was very embarrassed by it. She is typically a good student, but was having a hard time in timed-tests. We role-played what she might say to others if they found out her low score. The answer we came up with was, "Yeah, I know I got a low score and I'm trying to improve it. It's something that comes hard for me." The answer totally worked. It knocked the wind out of the sails of the kids who were teasing her and then they opened up to Sydney about things they weren't good at.
- Encourage your child's strengths. I have so much to say about this one that I'll write another whole blog post about this soon. Parents have a natural tendency to always focus on what is wrong with the situation or their child's weaknesses. Find out what your child is good at and then give them loads of opportunity to do that. Let them become really good at something. This concept was explained to me this way: in Major League Baseball, do the pitchers spend time during practice pitching or batting? They obviously have the most room for improvement in the batting category. Their weakness is batting. But, no, they spend their time improving their pitching, the thing they are already good at. They spend time getting better and better.
- Instill a great sense of family. When Josh came home, he was so proud that he was a "Thacker". He told everyone he saw and learned how to spell his last name quickly. We changed his middle name to my brother's name, to instill in Josh that he was a part of us. One of my friends does a great job of doing this in her family and she only has biological kids right now. She brings a lot of reasons of why her kids can or can't do something back to the family. "You are part of the Brown Family. In our family, we only use words that are kind."
- For adopted kids, honor their first family and culture. If you adopted your child internationally, become an expert in that country. Celebrate the country's holidays. Learn some of the language. Have traditional clothes your child can wear when they want. Cook food from the country. Support the orphanage or other charities. Find things from the country to decorate your home. When Reese came home, a good friend gave me a beautiful piece of artwork from Haiti that was made out of oil drums in Haiti. Sometimes, the kids have come from very hard places and it's hard to say nice things while still being truthful. Dig deep and search for positive things to say. When kids have bad starts, it's hard to know how to cope with that. I'm still learning. I'll share with you what I learn along the way!
- Acknowledge a child's past with empathy, but don't let them be a victim forever. Kids need you to be strong. They need you to have confidence in them too! Give them as much control over their lives as possible. If appropriate, put them in charge of a pet or some other chore that they can feel confident about. Kids want us to be the parent. They want us to tell them that it will be okay.
- Be self-confident yourself. Model self confidence for your child. You can talk and talk and talk, but they are really watching what you are doing.
What are other ways to help kids have great self-confidence?