12 Ways to raise a confident child (part 3 of 12)

And the journey continues…

3. Be a Positive Mirror

Much of a child’s self-image comes not only from what the child perceives about herself but from how she thinks others perceive her. This is especially true of preschoolers who learn about themselves from their parents’ reactions. Do you reflect positive or negative images to your child? Do you give her the idea that she’s fun to be with? That her opinions and desires matter to you? That her behavior pleases you? When you give your child positive reflections, he learns to think well of himself. He will also willingly rely on you to tell him when his behavior is not pleasing. This becomes a discipline tool. “All I have to do is look at her a certain way, and she stops misbehaving,” said one mother.

She had saturated her child’s self-awareness with positive feelings, and the youngster was used to the way he felt being on the receiving end of these strokes. When mother flashed a negative reflection, the child didn’t like the feeling it produced. He changed his behavior quickly to regain his sense of well-being.

Be Realistic

You can’t be up and smiling all the time and still, be human. Your child should know that parents have down days, too. Children can see through fake cheerfulness. Your sensitivity toward him will increase his sensitivity toward you, and someday he may be the one lifting your self-confidence.

Putting Humpty-Dumpty Back Together Again

When you raise a confident child, you spend the early years building your child’s self-confidence, and you spend the later years protecting it. Many thin-skinned children need protection from situations they find overwhelming. I was examining five-year-old Thomas for his school-entry physical. Thomas was a sensitive child whose mother had spent years helping him build a strong sense of self-worth. We were engaged in a philosophical discussion of the long-term benefits of attachment parenting, and Thomas was understandably bored. He began hanging on my scale—an expensive scale that is built into the top of the examining table.

My first thought was the safety of my table. To me, it was more at risk than Thomas, so I firmly asked, “Thomas, would you please stop hanging on the scale?” Just as Thomas was about to crumble from my unintended put-down, his mother interjected a saving, “…because you’re so strong.” She knows how to get behind the eyes of her child.

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

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