12 Ways to raise a confident child (part 2 of 12)

The journey continues…

2. Improve Your Own Self-Confidence

Parenting is therapeutic. In caring for your child, you often heal yourself. A mother with a high-need baby in our practice once declared, “My baby brings out the best and the worst in me.” If there are problems in your past that affect your present parenting, confront them. Get psychological help if they are interfering with your ability to remain calm and parent effectively.

Raise a Confident Child by Healing Your Past

A child’s self-esteem is acquired, not inherited. Certain parenting traits and certain character traits, such as anger and fearfulness, are learned in each generation. Having a baby gives you the chance to become the parent you wish you had. If you suffer from low self-confidence, especially if you feel it’s a result of how you were parented, take steps to heal yourself and break the family pattern. Try this exercise to help raise a confident child (therapists call this “passing on the best, and discarding the rest”)

  • List the specific things your parents did to build your self-image.
  • List the specific things your parents did to weaken your self-image.
  • Now resolve to emulate the good things your parents did and avoid the rest. If you find it difficult to follow through with this exercise on your own, get help from a professional. Both you and your child will benefit.

Don’t Be Too Hard on Your Parents

They probably did the best they could given their circumstances and the prevailing advice of the times. I remember once hearing a grandmother say to a mother, “I was a good mother to you. I followed exactly the schedule the doctor gave me.” This new mother felt that some of her present problems stemmed from the rigid scheduling that she endured when she was a baby. She was determined to learn to read her baby’s cues. I reminded her not to blame her own mother because the prevailing parenting practice at the time was to follow the “experts’” advice on child-rearing. The current mother, however, is more comfortable becoming the expert on her own child.

Polish Your Mirror

No one can put on a happy face all the time, but a parent’s unhappiness can transfer to a child. Your child looks to you as a mirror for his own feelings. If you are worried, you can’t reflect good feelings. In the early years, a child’s concept of self is so intimately tied up with the mother’s concept of herself that a sort of mutual self-worth building goes on. What image do you reflect on your child? She will see through a false facade to the troubled person beneath. Matthew, on a fill-in-the-blanks tribute to his mother, wrote: “I like being with my mother most when she’s happy.”

Children translate your unhappiness with yourself to mean unhappiness with them. Even infants know they are supposed to please their parents. As they get older, they may even come to feel responsible for their parents’ happiness. If you are not content, they must not be good (or good enough). If you are experiencing serious problems with depression or anxiety, seek help so that you can resolve these feelings before they affect your child.

Martha Notes: Tip of the Day

“Shortly after the birth of our eighth child, I was overwhelmed with two babies in diapers and the needs of four older children at home. My stress was reflected in my face; I was often not a happy person. Fortunately, I recognized what I was showing of myself to my children. I did not want my children growing up believing that mothering is no fun or that they caused me to be unhappy. I sought help, fixed my inner feelings and polished my mirror so that my children could see a better image of themselves.”

December 21, 2020 December 21, 2020 Dr. Bill Sears

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